Could Choo Shin-soo find a new home in Philly?
Veteran slugger Choo Shin-soo's MLB career may not be over just yet, with the Philadelphia Phillies reportedly considering adding the 38-year-old to their roster for the upcoming season.
After seven seasons with the Texas Rangers, Choo became a free agent at the end of the 2020 season. With the off-season winding down and spring training set to start at the end of February, Choo is yet to sign with a new team for the 2021 season.
According to multiple reports, Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations for the Phillies, told reporters on Wednesday that he is happy with the team's current squad but is looking to improve, possibly by bringing in some veterans to add strength and experience to the lineup.
Choo is among the three players the Rangers are potentially looking at, alongside switch-hitting utility player Marwin González, formerly of the Minnesota Twins, and infielder Brad Miller, who formerly played for the Phillies before moving to the St. Louis Cardinals last year.
Choo is the most established Korean playing in the major leagues, having chosen to head straight to the United States rather than first plying his trade in the KBO. Over 16 seasons in the big leagues he has played for the Seattle Mariners, the Cleveland Indians, the Cincinnati Reds and the Rangers.
Choo joined the Mariners organization in 2000, initially playing in the minor leagues. In 2005, he made his MLB debut with the Mariners but was traded to the Indians in the middle of the 2006 season, immediately entering the major league squad. Choo spent the majority of 2007 in the minor league and struggled with injuries, undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.
He returned to the majors in 2008 and never really looked back, joining the 20-20 club for the first time in 2009 with 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. In 2011, Choo struggled at the plate and with injuries, but bounced back in 2012, his last season with the Indians.
Choo was traded to the Reds in 2013, becoming the first Korean ever to homer in the postseason during the Wild Card game.
After signing a huge $130-million deal with the Rangers in 2014, Choo ended up batting the worst season of his career. Choo's form improved over the following years, but he was plagued by injuries and ended up missing the 2017 season completely.
2018 turned out to be Choo's year. By this point a veteran, Choo returned with a vengeance, recording an incredible 52-game, on-base streak, one of the longest in MLB history and a new Rangers record. He was named to the All-Star squad and became the Rangers' Player of the Year.
By 2020, Choo, once an outfielder but now more often the designated hitter, had quietened down a bit. He finished the shorted 2020 season with a .236 batting average with five home runs and 15 runs batted in.
Throughout his 16 years in the MLB, Choo has a career batting average of .275 with 1,671 hits, 782 runs batted in and 218 home runs. He is famously fearless at the plate, and has racked up 152 hits by pitch throughout his career, the second highest of any active player and 23rd highest of all time.
Choo has made it clear that he isn't ready to retire yet, but the clock is ticking if he wants to find a new MLB home before spring training begins.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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