Rangers continue pursuit of free agent Choo
Outfielder seeking hefty payday; details of discussions undisclosed
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Rangers have put forth their best effort to sign free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. They now wait to see how seriously Choo wants to play in Texas.
The Rangers have been in communication with Choo's agent, Scott Boras, since before the Winter Meetings. It is unclear exactly what numbers have been exchanged, but the Rangers have shown serious interest, and Choo is interested in playing in Texas.
Discussions continue. The Rangers are not likely to go as high as the seven-year, $153 million contract that Boras negotiated for Jacoby Ellsbury with the Yankees. It's just a matter of the two sides coming up with an agreement less than that but satisfactory to both. Boras said Choo is in the process of reviewing all of his options.
"I think he's really looking at what franchises have had to say about their futures and what owners have said about their intentions long term," Boras said. "He's also looking at what roles they have for him, because he's a guy who can play multiple positions in the outfield and can really hit in a number of places in the order. So we're looking at the depth of the Minor Leagues, the current statuses of Major League teams, the commitment of the owners and the success of the franchise. Those are all things he's covered with the teams we've met with."
As far as when something might get done, Boras said, "I don't think anybody can put a time frame on these negotiations. I think Choo has gone to the meetings, met with the teams, very methodical, very patient. An in-depth thinker.
"Certainly the information he's getting is something he's looking at and is talking about it with the wife. I don't think there's any need on his part to make a rapid decision. The fact of the matter is this market is a little bit further along for him than players you see sign later in January."
The Rangers have not commented on their negotiations with Choo during the Meetings. General manager Jon Daniels said they were in the "same spot as yesterday," when asked about what progress had been made toward acquiring another hitter.
Daniels spent most of Wednesday talking to other clubs rather than representatives for free agents.
"That's just the way the schedule fell," Daniels said. "We've had conversations along both lines."
Privately, club officials have acknowledged their interest in Choo, who scored 107 runs and had a .423 on-base percentage for the Reds last year. They view him as a strong fit at the top of their lineup.
But sources said the Rangers had deep concerns about the asking price, and club officials have said privately that Choo would be too expensive. That hasn't kept them from talking with Boras.
"Most teams, when they meet with us, they are there to talk about how they can acquire the player, not about their limitations," Boras said. "Budgets are a human design, not a physical barrier."
Daniels has not discussed Choo by name in any of his press briefings this week. The only free agent he has acknowledged is Nelson Cruz because he played for the Rangers last year. But even then, Daniels has been brief in his briefings on Cruz, and the Rangers don't appear close to a deal with him.
"We're not done yet, but we don't feel any desperation to make a move," Daniels said. "We're a good team. We'd like to get better if the opportunity is there. If not, we're going to go with the guys we've got."
The Rangers are still perceived within the industry to be the leading candidates to sign Choo. They have a need for a leadoff hitter and other clubs believe the Rangers have the financial resources to make one more big acquisition. Daniels continues to suggest that is not necessarily the case.
"We've made a lot of big moves over the years, so there's this expectation that we're going to be involved with everything," Daniels said. "Not everything makes sense for us to be involved with. We have a budget that we operate on. Our ownership has stretched at times in the past. All that being said, we have a budget to work under. And listen, we have a high payroll. We're going to be top 10 in the league or right around there. We're not complaining about money.
"Look at our history, too. When you invest in the wrong contract, there's a consequence. Every team has a budget. These are businesses. Our owners have invested a lot of money into the club, probably above and beyond what our revenues call for. We're just trying to be responsible about that."
The market could get soft for Choo if the Rangers hold firm. That means Choo could become more affordable and more attractive to the Rangers as the winter progresses. But Boras said there has been plenty of interest in Choo at the Meetings.
"The bottom line is we like our team," Daniels said. "We like our foundation, we like our options and we like our young players. We don't feel any sense of desperation to make a move. We've put ourselves in a position where we can be a little picky.
"When you're in a position where you need to sign a player, you're in trouble. Fortunately, we're not."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.