When one of the hottest free-agents of this offseason, Shin-Soo Choo, turned down the New York Yankees offer of a seven-year, $140 million contract it was a toss up for where the left-handed outfielder would end up. So it was somewhat of a surprise when the news came that Choo and the Texas Rangers had agreed to a seven-year, $130 million contract.
By heading to Texas, who also acquired Prince Fielder this offseason, joins Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre, Alex Rios, and Yu Darvish on a Ranger team that seems to be the favorite in the AL West. While Choo adds a big bat for Texas, it also leaves Cincinnati with a big hole to fill.
As a leadoff hitter, Choo had a career high .423 on-base percentage while smacking 21 home runs and driving in 54 runs. He was hit a club-record 26 times and was essential to the Reds offensive output. While his defense, at times, was suspect, Choo was a vital part of the Reds club that reached the playoffs for the third time in four years. So where will the Reds go now that he is gone? Who will they turn to?
Upon first thought, speedster Billy Hamilton might be the first name to pop up. The base-stealing phenom appeared in 13 games last season and stole 13 total bases. While most came from pinch-running situations, he also had 22 plate appearances and batted .368 in the last month of the season. He did have some trouble in Triple-A reaching base.
“He's the guy,” Cincinnati Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty said. “We feel confident he can be a good leadoff hitter. He'll give us great defense. The only question is how often he can get on base."
While it's obvious his speed in his upside, he only played a grand total of 45 innings in the field while with the Reds. He's young, just 23 years of age, so if the Reds were to decide to go with the speed demon, he would have plenty of time develop the other essential needs of an everyday center-fielder.
If the Reds were to turn to Hamilton, it would save the club a considerable amount of money to use on other areas. If it turns out that Hamilton isn't the future for the Reds, he may be able to find a nice home through a trade. Hamilton's speed makes him a very favorable asset in the trade-market.
Stay tuned for more updates on the Reds offseason roster moves. Be sure to follow CincinnatiReds101.com on twitter (@Reds_101).
Tags: Baseball, Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati, Cincinnati Reds, MLB, Shin-Soo Choo