Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Passan: Houston legit after Choo

Yahoo's Jeff Passan said this morning that the Astros are still a "legit Choo player." Here's where it gets interesting: the Rangers, who were also thought to be hard in on Choo, have apparently decided to move towards signing Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees apparently offered 7yrs/$140m for Choo, but Choo and his agent wanted a deal similar to Jacoby Ellsbury's deal (7yrs/$153m) and rejected the Yankees' offer. So the Yankees signed Carlos Beltran to a more-palatable 3yr/$45m deal.

A few things interest me about these developments:
1) If the Rangers are out on Choo, who is left as a reasonable suitor that actually has that kind of money to spend? It's not the Yankees. Nor the Rangers, apparently. Maybe the Orioles stump up to counter the Yankees and Red Sox? The Orioles are projected to spend $81.5m in 2014, but with arbitration projections in 2015 (Wieters and Chris Davis), that goes up to a possible $90.1m in payroll. Would the Orioles let payroll go over $100m for the foreseeable future? Point is: if Choo wants Ellsbury money, who is left to pay it? And does that help the Astros' negotiating position?

2) What Scott Boras has done is fascinating. Remember how we all marveled at how quickly Ellsbury signed that deal? Hey, guess who Ellsbury's agent is: Scott Boras. Want to know who Shin-Soo Choo's agent is? I'll wait. Yep! Scott Boras. Of course Boras knew that one contract was going to influence the other - so you have to think that he took the Ellsbury deal so quickly because he knew it would skyrocket Choo's price. Boras isn't traditionally known to be the guy to get his premiere free agents signed quickly, which indicates to me - and this is a strictly personal view - that they took the Yankees' offer because it surprised even them.

Consider in September, when everyone crapped their pants when Jon Heyman quoted an "unnamed GM" that Choo would cost between $90-100m. Then in October, the price for Choo was reported to be around $125m (again, Jon Heyman - he's not really doing much to discount the "Boras' personal reporter" card). Now Passan comes in and says that Boras/Choo turned down $140m from the Yankees. All of this tells me that Boras has engineered what could be a $50m increase in Choo's price. Amazing.

3) Passan notes that the Astros won't want to give up a draft pick, because if they do, it lowers the overall bonus pool they have to play with in the 2014 draft. Since the 1-1 is protected, the Astros would be giving the 35th overall pick in the 2014 draft to the Reds, because they'll be losing Choo. In 2013 the 35th pick in the draft was worth $1,587,700. The official draft pools haven't been released yet, but seeing as how the 2013 draft pool bonus were up around 8% over 2012, you can guess that the 35th overall pick will come with an extra $1.6m+, give or take.

4) If the Astros are in fact, interested heavily in Choo it certainly makes sense why they wouldn't necessarily give Jose Veras the money he wanted. 

So do the Astros spend the money on Choo and lose $1.6m in the 2014 draft...which would certainly help bring in Carlos Rodon or (insert someone else here)? Or do they pass and see what they can cobble together between Fowler, Springer, and Grossman/Hoes?

Update: Check out FOAC (Friend of Astros County) David Temple in FanGraphs on A Case For The Astros Signing Shin-Soo Choo
Updated Update: Evan Drellich says nothing has changed from three days ago, when he wrote that the Astros signing Choo was unlikely