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Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Spend Hal's Money: Shin-Soo Choo

By Andrew Marchand

Shin-Soo Choo
Shin-Soo Choo could shore up the Yankees' outfield -- but he'll be expensive.
Hal Steinbrenner's "serious goal" is to have the Yankees' payroll fall below the $189 million salary threshold. With that in mind, here at ESPN New York, we are going to examine potential free-agent and trade candidates in a feature we call "Spend Hal's Money."

Candidate: Shin-Soo Choo
Position: Outfielder
Age: 31
Height: 5-11
Weight: 205
2013: .285, 21 HRs, 54 RBIs, .885 OPS

SHOULD THE YANKEES SPEND HAL'S MONEY?: Choo might turn out to be the top outfielder on the Yankees' board, but that doesn't guarantee they will go after him hard. Choo holds an edge over Jacoby Ellsbury because he is less injury-prone and not as reliant on his legs. Choo is a year younger than Curtis Granderson and is considered a better defender, but not as powerful a hitter. Compared with Carlos Beltran -- whom the Yankees like -- Choo is more durable.

But Choo might be a luxury item for the Yankees. After Cano, he is in the mix, along with Ellsbury and Brian McCann, as the second-most coveted offensive free agent on the market. (If teams overlook Granderson's 2013 injuries, he could be considered as well.)

Choo is going to require big bucks. The Yankees have money to shell out, but the outfield is not the top priority, though they figure to add a big bat there if they are unable to sign Cano. If Cano re-signs, they could still try to go for an outfielder, but may opt to fill bigger needs.

If Cano flees, then the Yankees could turn to Choo or Ellsbury for speed, or Granderson or Beltran for power. However, some believe Choo's career is about to take a turn downward.

He only hit .215 against lefties this year, though one scout pointed out his on-base percentage was still .347 against southpaws because he walked a lot. His overall OBP was .457, which could add up to a pretty lethal combination with Brett Gardner. It wouldn't be a classic Bronx Bomber look, but it could be exciting to watch.

Still, if the Yankees are going to add a bat to the outfield, Brian Cashman's history would suggest he would want power -- especially from the left side -- which would favor Granderson or Beltran.

VERDICT: Pass. Choo is a very good player, but the Yankees need to allocate their offensive money toward power, meaning Cano, Granderson and/or Beltran would be ahead of him on the list.