Shin-Soo Choo Wants a “Transfer,” Wishes Will Ring Hollow

The Indians fan base was collectively shocked on Wednesday night when a Paul Hoynes report claimed that outfielder Shin-Soo Choo wants to “transfer” to a team that wins more often.  Citing an interview with a reporter from the Korean Times, Choo reportedly said – in an oddly translated sentence – winning would help him improve more as a player.

And while the Indians are standing by their direct talks with the player, stating that Choo has expressed a desire to win in Cleveland, fans of the team decided to overreact and shout from their e-rooftops that Choo was as good as gone.  Oh, and this one too. Oof.

This is where I point the ill-informed to Jon Steiner’s most excellent piece from about a week ago, laying out what Choo will be looking at in arbitration this offseason. In said piece, he stated:

It’s also worth noting that there are some things that the end of Choo’s pre-arbitration years DO NOT MEAN.  Most importantly among these, it doesn’t mean that another team can outbid the Indians—only the Indians can sign Choo for next year.  If you need it, here is my personal guarantee: SHIN-SOO CHOO WILL BE AN INDIAN NEXT YEAR.  Yes, they could trade him this off-season, but let’s get serious.  That ain’t happening.

I, for one, do not understand how this cannot be explained more clearly. For one reason or another – most likely because the Tribe front office has avoided it like the plague – fans seem to think that the word “arbitration” means that a player can leave if the team opts to not match the demands of the player and his representative. 

The same free wheeling and dealing player compensation structure that we all enjoy complaining about during free agency is actually working in the Indians’ favor this season.  Sure, Choo will be looking at a pay raise this offseason – after all, if in fact it goes to arbitration, it is evident that he is worth more than his current salary – but the stud right fielder is under club control for three more seasons. 


Which means that Choo can go into each offseason looking for a one-year hike in pay via arbitration or (as most 28-year old players should), look to sign a contract that would guarantee an increasing rate of compensation for the next three or so seasons. 

As Jon also mentioned, the three-year deal is in the best interest of both parties.

From the Indians’ perspective, avoiding arbitration means you don’t have to tell Choo (to his face—players attend these hearings) that he’s not good enough to make half of what Travis Hafner makes.  Wouldn’t you want to avoid that as your first job if you were Chris Antonetti?

And From ChooBoras’s opinion, you’re likely to get hosed in arbitration anyway.  And regardless, you’d like some security in case you get injured.

It makes so much sense to me to sign a three-year contract.  Which means it probably won’t happen.  So here are three predictions:

  • They go to arbitration.  ChooBoras lose their $5.5 million demand.  Choo makes $3.9 million.
  • They sign a one-year deal worth $4.5 million.
  • They sign a three-year deal: 2011 – $4 million; 2012 – $6.5 million; 2013 – $10.5 million.

Now, of course, this does not alleviate the team of a player who may or may not want to be playing in Cleveland.  After all, the team didwin just 69 games this season and offers little to no help to the Korean star when it comes to protection and opportunities for the occasional run batted in.

Paul from The DiaTribe covered the Choo-to-Detroit talkfrom about a week ago, explaining the link between Scott Boras and the Tigers (Pudge Rodriguez, Magglio Ordoñez, Johnny Damon) coupled with the Jhonny Peralta happiness and his link to the player involved.  And thankfully, as most fans should have prior to overreacting on a meaningless Wednesday night, Paul redirected his readers to Jon’s piece, echoing the same sentiments.

“While that perception may be ultimately true, what it fails to take into consideration is that, you know… he’s under club control THROUGH THE 2013 SEASON!”

  • Danny

    I feel that, if the Indians were to trade Choo, they will have officially reached Pirates/Royals incompetence. Pay the man, please.

  • JK

    I thought I heard somewhere Choo had to go back to Korea for military purposes or something?

    Anyway, is it silly of me to think that we will be pretty solid next year if we can get everyone back healthy? Solid core of Choo, Sizemore, and Santana.

  • Scott

    “I thought I heard somewhere Choo had to go back to Korea for military purposes or something?”

    Also touched on in Jon’s piece.

  • Chris

    Meh. We may as well trade him. It’s not like we’re planning on bringing anyone in to help him.

  • The Constant Complainer

    I’m stunned that you guys didn’t win The Scene’s “Best Of” this year. But hey, in my eyes, you still run a pretty cool blog.

  • Scott

    Honestly, I was unaware that it was that time of year again – didn’t have a chance to let our readers know.

  • Robbie

    The Indians will never be able to pay top dollar for a player. Well… let me correct that: They do occasionally pay top dollar for a player, but then that player tends to stop performing.

    It’s clear to me this organization will be a rebuild-and-hope-to-contend-for-a-few-years-each-decade type of organization. Play it safe and stay flexible with the payroll you have is my opinion.

    Choo’s Korean so I don’t expect he’d have the same prejudices against Cleveland that people from other areas of the USA have, but he’s going to demand as much money as possible once he’s free of arbitration. If it gets to that point, late in the game, trade him for prospects. That’s the reality we have to face as Indians fans in a cap-less MLB.

  • The DiaTriber

    It’s terrifying that the people who sent out those tweets were serious. I guess I never want to believe that people could be that delusional or flat-out stupid.

  • clevexaminer

    Lost In Translation – Cleveland style

  • Denny

    @ DiaTriber – not sure if you’ve realized this, but Twitter is pretty much the best place for over-the-top knee-jerk reactionary fan talk.


  • Andrew

    Saw this on Twitter:

    @castrovince Hello, a Korean sports writer here. Choo said, purely out of envy, he wanted to play on a winning team after watching other guys pop champagne for clinching playoff berths. But he didn’t say the word ‘transfer’ (should have been translated into ‘trade.’ It’s baseball, not soccer) as far as I know. But he also said he wants to stay with one club for a long time and Cleveland would be his first choice. Then he said his agent would take care of his contract situation and that he hadn’t heard anything special from the agent. Hope this helps.

  • Gbwoy

    Cleveland is not going to sign Choo to a long term deal beyond his arb years. With Scott Boras being his agent, that means he becomes a free agent and goes to the highest bidder. That’s what Boras always does, and I doubt Choo will be any different. With that being taken into consideration as well as where the Indians are in their rebuilding phase, it makes much more sense to me to trade Choo now.

    But that has nothing to do with his comments or lack of them, it has to do with getting maximum return on a good player who isnt going to be helping the Indians to the playoffs anytime soon.

  • boogeyman

    Choo would probably prefer to go back to Korea and serve time in the military then play for the Indians and really I can’t say as I blame him. Regardless he’s gone whether it’s Boras or the Dolen’s the end is the same. If you like Choo all you can hope is he ends up on a contending team just like the rest of the ex-Indians. Man we really have become an AAAA club.

  • JM

    He will prob sign with the Yankees once the contract is up.

  • Anthony


    A baseball player wants to win more games!!! Alert the press!

  • Lee.G

    Andrew, First I’m a Korean lives in Seoul.I joined this site while checking useful site. Choo’s remarks is correct as you mentioned in twitters.The korea times just translated ill-informed sources.(The reporter name was Saboo,Lee-Sports Chosun who took brief interview with Choo in LAX and made up story or even didn’t understand what Choo really meant I think).

  • Lee.G

    Andrew, First I’m a Korean lives in Seoul.I joined this site while checking useful site. Choo’s remarks is correct as you mentioned in twitters.The korea times just translated ill-informed sources.(The reporter name was Saboo,Lee-Sports Chosun who took brief interview with Choo in LAX and made up story or even didn’t understand what Choo really meant I think).When I fisrt read that newspaper(at that time it was a Korean newspaper), I thought this guy even didn’t realized Choo is under control for next 3 years in the indians and making head lines” Choo want transfer”. What an idiot reporter!

  • Jon

    @ Lee.G

    Anyway you could send me an email to

    I’d love to hear a little more about Choo’s diary that you quoted from last week.



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  • Lee,G


    After WBC game, he started wrote some kind of diary dated back Aug 3,2009. In his first memo he told that it’s for the fans who supported him during the WBC games. He wished do someting for them. He also wrote that even during the season about helpless feeling for thumb injury& good team chemistry.The one about previous regards contract memo was dated back Apr 08,2010.( understand my poor English.

    “Quote, the diffrence between two side was years of contract. Shapiro demanded 5 or 6years contract including FA and Boras demanded 3years or 8to 9years. Boras asked if 5 or 6 years is possible, then why 8 or 9years is not possible? Shapiro replied that although Choo is a essential player regard team’s rebuilding process but we never signed a contract over 8 years.Boras think as for contract, there is one thing is exist. It’s BUSINESS. He explained that even when your team treat you as a family concept, the reality is that players being transfered whether he is 5 years contract player or not. It just depends on team’s interest.
    Last year, some high salary players transfered to other team such as Lee, Victor. Boras thought confidently when I get 5 years contract, the team will trade me after 2 or 3 years. I learned a lot during this contract negotiation. I had a hard times in Seattle and in Cleveland all members from mgr, crew, staff, new coach,players treats me as a family. But when it comes to contract, I felt there’s a only business is exist. So, we stop the negotiations and will resume after season. we starts season with W/Sox after Goodyear ballpark game tomorrow. -Choo/Arizona Quote”

  • Jon

    @ Lee.G

    That’s really interesting stuff. Thanks so much for sharing it. And your English is much better than my Korean, so thanks for translating for me.

  • Lee,G


    It’s my pleasure to find out this site. I learned a lot from in here.

    If any news occured regard Choo during his stay in Korea, I’ll post in here.

    Do you know how much Choo loves your team? In his memo dated Apr 19, 2010. He wrote that” I love this team very much. Every players inclding Acta work very closely as a team. Pls give us your support so we might reach on the high division place.”

    In previous his many memos, he always worried about teams record. In my opinion,he’s trying too much.

  • Lee.G

    @ Jon,

    I forgot smoething to tell you. What I read about news after Choo came in here at the airport. His father(ex-sportsman) told to one of reporter that Choo may ask Cleveland whether it’s ok to bring his own message crew on his own money. Yes the team has it’s own but there are many players in need. Choo once pointed out about that in his previous memo when he mentioned about cause of Sizemore’s injury.