The Brewers aren’t done yet. Rumors have them interested in adding another bat to the lineup.
Longtime outfielder and DH Shin-Soo Choo is reportedly drawing the eye of Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns, but, get this, with a position change.
Robert Murray of FanSided reported Saturday morning that Choo had been working out at first base this offseason in order to increase his versatility and make himself a more attractive free agent market. Well that news he was working out at first base was music to the Brewers ears.
Choo, 38, has been around a while and just finished up a massive seven year, $130MM contract with the Rangers. He had some solid seasons, but didn’t really live up to the contract he signed. He finished with an OPS above .800 in only three of those seven years.
Despite not living up to his contract, Choo does post some really good on-base numbers with a career .377 OBP. He had a down year in 2020, but from 2017-19, Choo hit in the .260-.265 range with a .368 OBP with over 20 homers each year and a 108 OPS+ overall.
Choo has never played first base before in a big league game, but that’s where the Brewers would put him if they sign him. That would mean the Crew’s top two first basemen have never played a game there before and their third first baseman, Daniel Vogelbach, is a poor defender in his limited time at the position.
Like Kolten Wong, the current big free agent addition for the Crew, Choo is a consistent bat for the most part that would provide some veteran leadership for a fairly young team.
However, a Choo addition would appear odd considering the Brewers just spent an entire press conference trying to convince fans that Keston Hiura will be the starting first baseman and can handle the position. So then why get someone like Choo?
Choo is still mostly an everyday player, playing in 146 games or more from 2017-19, but only 33 games in 2020 after dealing with a wrist injury. He’s a left-handed hitter, which theoretically would play well at American Family Field and would work to make an easy platoon with the right handed hitting Hiura.
However, neither Hiura nor Choo are platoon-type bats. Both bats are plenty good enough to start everyday. Also, Hiura is far better against righties than he is against lefties, so his splits are reverse. With both players performing better against righties, a platoon is out of the question.
So then the question is, why the interest in Choo? Perhaps the Brewers believe Choo would be their first option off the bench as a pinch hitter. Maybe they want some insurance in case Hiura can’t hack it at first, but then why get someone like Choo who also hasn’t played first base in any games?
Stearns is not afraid to go with outside the box ideas and Choo would likely be an improvement over Vogelbach.
It’ll be interesting to see how much Choo signs for, whether it be with the Brewers or someone else.