As of right now, the most glaring hole on the team. Finding a replacement for Choo defensively won't be that hard of a task. Finding someone to replicate his production at the top of the order is impossible...unless we re-sign Choo. And with Boras saying he wants Choo to top Werth's deal, that is either seemingly impossible. Two scenarios could allow us to do this 1) Uncle Bob opens up the pocketbook and we expand the payroll. 2) Trading higher priced players to fit him in our current payroll. As of right now, either plan has the downside of the club paying Choo for 2-3 years where his production wanes. Although Choo's on-base skills could allow him to still give a decent production at the plate in his later years.
Choo's abilities at the plate are in pretty high demand around today's pitching dominant MLB. And when the Reds first acquired him, many thought they were insane at the thought of him playing CF. But I think Choo proved that his defense there wasn't the disaster many expected. Nobody is going to expect gold glove defense there, but the fact he didn't completely crap his pants was impressive enough that GMs see a guy who's versatile enough to play both corner outfield slots and slide over into CF every once in a while if needed.
I don't see Choo signing anywhere until after Pedroia sets the market. If Pedroia gets a monstrous contract, Choo's value will increase even further with GMs thinking "Well...now $130 for six years doesn't look that bad."
Unless there's some kind of miracle or we here on RedsZone start immediately sacrificing virgins to the baseball Gods, I think Choo will be much too expensive for the Redlegs. So we will have to turn to either free agency or trades.
Here's a list of FA CF (as per MLBTR's Free Agent tracker) with 2013 batting stats.
Rick Ankiel - .188/.235/.422
Roger Bernadina - .181/.250/.295
Shin-Soo Choo - .285/.423/.463
Tyler Colvin - .160/.192/.280
Rajai Davis - .260/.312/.375
Jacoby Ellsbury - .298/.355/.426
Curtis Granderson - .229/.317/.407
Franklin Gutierrez - .248/.273/.503
Reed Johnson - .244/.311/.341
Skip Schumaker - .263/.332/.332
Ryan Sweeney - .266/.324/.448
After Choo and Ellsbury, the selection here is pretty thin. Nearly everyone on the list is either a platoon type guy or wouldn't play enough CF to prove very useful. But do the Reds need a REAL CF? Choo wasn't one.
This list shows how rare having a decent CF really is. After eliminating Choo and Ellsbury, the rest of the list is panic attack inducing. This makes a trade target like Denard Span (.279/.327/.380) look like a no brainer. Which means the Nationals could demand some major pieces coming back to them in exchange, especially with how good of a deal his contract is ($6.5 million in 2014 with a $9m team option in 2015 and only a half million buyout).
Dexter Fowler could be another target. He hit .263/.369/.407 last year and the Rockies feel like they're close to contending, but need pitching.
Another team who could be possible trading partners would be the Red Sox. Boston is desperate for a catcher. The Reds happen to now have 3 of major league caliber on the roster after the signing of Pena. If the Sox manage to keep Ellsbury in Boston, they don't have much use for Jackie Bradley Jr., who the Reds could fit in at CF for the foreseeable future and who's acquisition could allow them to deal Hamilton, who's value is extraordinarily high coming off a record breaking minor league season on 2012 and who put on a base running clinic at the end of last season.
What do you guys think happens? With all the talk of trades, the front office is silent as usual. We haven't had a big deal happen since Latos was brought over and with Dusty being fired we know something big is going to happen, and to compete filling CF has to be part of the equation .