No - I am not from State Farm!
*Free-Agent Forecast: How much will MLB's top free agents get, and from whom?
Choo enters free agency coming off a monster season at the plate, in which he hit .285/.423/.462 with 21 home runs. Choo has always been a patient hitter, but a high hit-by-pitch total helped contribute to his ridiculous on-base percentage. It should also be noted that Choo played in a friendly offensive environment.
Consistency should play a big role in Choo's next contract. Even if teams expect some decline after his great 2013, Choo has put up a .377 wOBA over the past five seasons. That figure ranks sixth among outfielders with at least 2,000 plate appearances since 2008. From a free agent standpoint, both Nick Swisher and Shane Victorino made some sense as comps -- until Hunter Pence signed a $90 million extension with the Giants in September. Both players are the same age, so Pence's deal is the perfect contract for Choo to use as a baseline. Both players are pretty equal using WAR. Pence holds a small lead over Choo 24.5 to 23.6. Choo has been a much better offensive player, but his defense has slipped considerably the past two seasons, pushing down his value.
Projected contract: It really depends on how the league reacts to Pence's deal. Choo has every right to ask for $18 million per year, considering he's been as good as Pence. If teams see that as an overpay, Choo may have to work with less money. But if he can play bidders up, there's a chance for him to get a little more. For now, an annual salary between $17 million and $19 million seems likely.
Potential landing spots: The Reds have been mentioned as a suitor for an outfielder, and could opt to hold Choo. Houston has emerged as a surprise suitor as well, even though they currently boast the lowest payroll in baseball. The Mariners are in need of outfield help, but Choo likely wouldn't be in a position to win immediately. The Rangers could also use help in the outfield, and should compete next season.
Choo is hitting the market at a great time due to the lack of available FA talent with more clubs locking up players pre-FA, new stat thinking being in vogue in the front offices and his tremendous '13 numbers. No one could have imagined Choo getting a $100M+ deal at the start of the season.
Would like to know if the Reds tried to make Choo an extended offer immediately after the trade. 3/40 or 4/50 might have gotten it done although I suspect Choo would have wanted to see how the year went in Cincinnati first with Boras strong advice.