Colorado Rockies: Are they interested in Shin-Soo Choo?
This weekend, our colleague, Robert Murray of FanSided, reported on Twitter that free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is garnering some interest from “a few National League teams” and that he is looking to become more versatile by learning how to play first base and the Colorado Rockies may be among those teams.
Choo is one of only a handful of free agents that I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rockies were interested in and eventually signed for a few reasons.
First and foremost, the Rockies love versatile players. That’s part of the reason why they have tried to find a roster spot for Chris Owings last year and likely will in 2021. Garrett Hampson is versatile and the Rockies have tried to make some players, like Ryan McMahon, Ian Desmond, Josh Fuentes, Brendan Rodgers, and Tony Wolters (when he was with the Rockies) more versatile.
Secondly, the Rockies have been known to put square pegs in round holes at positions. On numerous occasions in the Jeff Bridich-era, the Rockies have put players in their non-natural positions.
- Ian Desmond (at first base, center field, and left field when he was a shortstop)
- Josh Fuentes (a natural third baseman but he was excellent defensively at first base for the Rockies in 2020, though)
- Ryan McMahon at second base when he mainly played at third base and about 1/4 of his MiLB games at first base)
- Tony Wolters at catcher (he was a shortstop in the minor leagues)
- Daniel Murphy at first base instead of second base
- Mark Reynolds (to a lesser extent but he still came up as a third baseman, not a first baseman)
- Garrett Hampson at nearly every position besides shortstop since he is blocked by Trevor Story
- Brendan Rodgers (see Hampson)
- Pat Valaika (see Hampson, again)
- Gerardo Parra at first base
- Daniel Descalso at first base, occasionally
- Drew Butera at first base, occasionally
- Wilin Rosario at first base
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Some of those are understandable since Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story were/are blocking some third basemen and shortstops but at first base, since Justin Morneau, the Rockies really haven’t had a first baseman. If he plays first base as he did in 2020 and his bat can develop a little bit more, Josh Fuentes will be the first baseman of the future but it would be a Rockies move to sign Choo to play first base.
Choo is still a good offensive player but it would also be a Rockies move to sign someone that is about 6 years past their prime. Excluding the shortened 2020 season, Choo, 38, has hit 20+ home runs and 60+ RBI in each of the past three seasons while hitting .263/.368/.437 with an OPS+ of 108. But his best seasons were from 2008 through 2013 when (except 2011, when he was injured and only played in 85 games), he had an OPS+ that was more than 40 percent above league average with four seasons with an OBP of .373 or better (three seasons of .394 or better).
But Choo’s primary position is right field where, if the Rockies signed him, he would be blocked by Charlie Blackmon. If the NL had a DH in 2021, there would be more of a fit but, at least of this publication, it looks like that won’t be happening.
As a depth option or a platoon option in the outfield that would essentially fill the role that Matt Kemp did in 2020, Choo would be a good fit for the Rockies but if they want him to be the everyday first baseman, that would be a bad idea. As the adage goes, “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it” and signing him to play first base every day would be just that: asking history to repeat itself by signing a non-first baseman to play first base…yet again.