As usual, we’re not that interested in whether or not Choo was overpaid or underpaid. Only what this move is going to do for his fantasy value. As is typically the case with these big moves, we’re not just looking at one guy. So, who wins? Who loses? Whose status is still unknown? Let’s start there.
- Unclear: Nelson Cruz
My initial thought here was to say that Nelson Cruz lost as a result of this deal. If Shin-S00 Choo is going to Texas, it means that Cruz isn’t, and he may end up in a place that’s tough to hit.
But even if he ends up in Seattle, he’s going to a re-vamped lineup and should get plenty of RBI opportunities and pitches to hit. Also, what if he ends up in another place?
Two weeks ago, Bob Nightengale of USA Today had an interesting rumor on Choo.
Obviously that won’t happen now, but is it terribly crazy to think that Astros may go after Cruz? I certainly don’t have any insights on the matter, but it makes some sense.
We’ll just have to wait and see here.
- Unclear: Elvis Andrus
Those of you wondering about what the Rangers lineup will look like should have a look at what Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports said.
I believe Elvis Andrus is best suited for the lead-off role for fantasy and real life. He’ll be better off in a spot where he can steal bases a little more freely, and that generally applies to the No. 1 hitter way more than the No. 2 hitter.
If Choo goes into the top spot and Andrus hits second, then I don’t like this move for Andrus nearly as much. I don’t think he’s a good enough hitter to provide maximum fantasy value as a No. 2 guy, and he won’t be stealing as much with Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder looming.
Now, what about the guys who aren’t unclear?
- Loser: Alex Rios
When going over Rios’ fantasy value a few weeks ago, I made a point that for the sake of his fantasy value I’d like to see the Rangers add another power bat to go in the 3-5 spots in the order, moving Rios to the No. 2 spot. You can see by the lineup above, that doesn’t appear likely.
Hitting in the No. 5 spot, Rios might be a little more likely to steal a lot of bases in 2014, this means that these numbers aren’t that likely to be improved upon.
Alex Rios: Early 2014 Projections
Granted, I see plenty of RBI chances but I’d rather see a player like Alex Rios in a run-scoring spot than an RBI one.
- Winner: Prince Fielder & Adrian Beltre
Look at that lineup again.
Choo has a .389 career OBP and was over .400 last year with the Cincinnati Reds. Hitting behind Elvis Andrus and Shin-Soo Choo will give these two guys ample RBI chances. That’s a pretty big deal, since these aren’t exactly base stealers, so their fantasy values are predicated on big hitting numbers, especially in the power department.
- Losers: Jurickson Profar & Leonys Martin
If you were wondering if either of these guys might slide up into one of the top two spots in the Texas order, the answer is now a definitive no. At least, not as long as Choo and Elvis Andrus remain healthy.
If Jurickson Profar is indeed hitting seventh, his fantasy value takes a big hit. Even in a good lineup, the No. 7 spot is about the worst possible place for a hitter to put up big numbers.
Batting ninth will at least allow Leonys Martin to run a lot. His runs scored should also be okay, as whenever he gets on base, he’ll have the top of the order driving him in. The bad news is that batting ninth, he’s going to lose at-bats, and you never want that.
- Winner: Shin-Soo Choo
Saving the best for last and indeed, the biggest winner of this deal is the man who signed it — and not just because he inked a $130 million deal in a place with no state income tax.
There weren’t many negatives about Shin-Soo Choo in 2013, but one of them was how drastic his home/road splits were, as he slashed at .318/.448/.500 in Cincinnati, and .251/.399/.424 on the road.
In Texas, he’s getting another great lineup and park to bolster his numbers. Not only that, but moving back to the AL and getting the option to DH will only be a good thing. Choo hasn’t had a big history of missing time or anything, but you can’t help but like that he’ll have the option to stay fresh, while not leaving the lineup.