Shin-Soo Chooses Taxless Texas

Remember the rumors — going all the way back to July — that the Mets’ main free-agent target would be Shin-Soo Choo? Well, so much for that.

In case you haven’t heard the news, outfielder Shin-Soo Choo has signed with the Texas Rangers for 7 years, $130M — which is reportedly $10M less than the contract offered by the New York Yankees earlier this winter.

Via superagent Scott Boras, the 31-year-old Korean on-base machine spurned the Yankees’ slightly higher offer, which was pulled when the Bronx Bombers moved on to Carlos Beltran.

Why would Boras and Choo take less money from Texas? For one, there is no state income tax in Texas, so it could work out as being a more lucrative deal when all is said and done. (Any accountants / tax geniuses out there who can weigh in here?) Of course, it could also be a matter of Boras misreading the market, and having to “settle” for such a paltry sum. Or, maybe Choo preferred living in Texas over New York — I hear the schools are nearly as good as they are in Colorado.

In any case, what’s done is done, and Choo is off the market, which should create a domino effect. Other teams that were in on Choo may now set their sights on Nelson Cruz. Hmm, not many dominoes left to fall, come to think of it. Other than Cruz, who is left? Chris Coghlan? Sam Fuld? Slim Pickens?

Though, the news of Choo could spark a trade here or there, and/or cause teams to move away from spending money in the outfield and putting it instead toward pitching. Or Stephen Drew. There aren’t many glittering options left on the free-agent market.

On the other hand, signing Choo might eliminate the Rangers from the impending Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes.

What’s your thought on this signing? It was pretty clear the Mets were out on Choo once they signed Curtis Granderson, but maybe you held hope they’d still consider him? Is it a good move, or bad move, by the Rangers? How do you think it will affect the hot stove season? Comment below.

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Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. DanB December 22, 2013 at 10:35 am
    The income tax effect is a bit overstated since it only effects salary from home games. Also, athletes are, by nature, ultra competitive. Making $1 million more then other players at your position means a lot, even if taxes eat away at your net. I think people lose track of that element when they say “why does he need more money when he is making tens of millions?”. It stops being about money — the numbers become a way of competing against each other
    • Joe Janish December 22, 2013 at 4:14 pm
      The tax issue is fairly complicated for MLBers (and all pro athletes, for that matter). If Choo did sign with the Yankees, and made NY his primary state of residence, then ALL of his earnings are taxed by New York, regardless of where he earned it.

      Of course, he could buy a home in Texas or Florida or some other state without income tax, but he might still be seen as a New York resident by New York State if he spent enough time in NY and rented or owned a place. A few years back, NY State went after Derek Jeter, despite Jeter’s “residence” in Tampa.

  2. izzy December 22, 2013 at 11:04 am
    I’m not a tax expert, but there is something to it. i remember when the Mets were trying to keep Olerud from going home to Seattle they offered him more so the net was equal. he didn’t stay anyway so maybe the stories were bogus. I don’t understand the love for Choo anyway.
    As for Tanaka, it sounds like he may very well have to stay home as his team is feeling ripped off by the new 20 million limit. This is a 40-50 million dollar loss for them.
    Is Cruz going to be the 1 PEDster hurt this Winter?
    • crozier December 22, 2013 at 3:19 pm
      The love for Choo is he’s very good at what he does — which is also to say he’s not great. He performs well offensively relative to his peers, has pop, scores runs, blah blah blah.

      I think when teams get drunk on money, ballplayers who are in actuality a 7 start to look like a 10.

      Anyway, note how Joe describes him: an “on-base machine.” That’s how far we’ve come from the dawn of Moneyball: the once secret skill set is now front-and-center.

      Joe also describes Choo as “Korean,” which yeah, he is, though I’m struggling to find the relevance.

      • Joe Janish December 22, 2013 at 3:53 pm
        Re: Choo’s nationality …

        On the winter holiday weekend I like to mix in a variety of facts, and have readers figure out which are there for effect, which for humor, and which have no relevance whatsoever.

        Similarly, on Christmas Day, our family will search the tree for the pickle — and whoever finds it, gets the bonus gift.

        • crozier December 22, 2013 at 10:01 pm
          Very slick response, Joe. I’m impressed. I’d almost think you did PR or something for a living.
        • Joe Janish December 22, 2013 at 11:29 pm
          heh heh … even off the clock, gotta keep my spin skills sharp …
  3. NormE December 22, 2013 at 2:58 pm
    Probably only a true Met fan would understand your pithy comment on Colorado schools–well done.
    As for Slim Pickens, he’s been dead for thirty years, so he’d have to settle for an Adulterated League team since he can’t play the field.
    • Joe Janish December 22, 2013 at 3:55 pm
      Norm found the pickle!

      Slim would probably fit into the Mets’ payroll for 2014, then.

      • NormE December 22, 2013 at 7:33 pm
        So what’s my bonus gift—-a dart board with Mike Hampton’s picture on it? Or a free subscription to Mets Today? Or……?
        • Joe Janish December 22, 2013 at 11:31 pm
          You have to wait till Christmas morning!
  4. DaveSchneck December 22, 2013 at 11:52 pm
    Joe,
    I agree with Crozier – Choo is good but not great. $130 mil for a guy entering his 32 year old season is nuts. As a side point, the Cano, Ellsbury, and Choo contracts to me are all nuts and will ultimately be losers in the baseball sense. I don’t thing the Mets ever were in on him, and at this price it doesn’t bother me.

    The tax deal matters and is likely worth the difference between the Yankee and Ranger deal. If Choo always preferred the Rangers, congrats to him and I give him credit. The Rangers have been and project to get good for a while – the have a great GM, a deep 25 man roster, a strong farm system, and a lean $125 mil payroll that can grow with big local TV money. Plus, they play in a great hitter’s park, so Choo’s numbers will benefit as well. Too bad the Mets can’t offer any intangibles like that to offset the high NY taxes.

    • Joe Janish December 23, 2013 at 2:26 am
      Yeah, all of these long-term deals are insane. But we thought the same about much lesser deals five years ago. It wasn’t so long ago that it seemed insane for Jeff Suppan to get 4/$42M, and Jayson Werth, 7/$126M. Clearly, the money is there for owners to spend. The Mets spend four years working toward “payroll flexibility” and when they finally get it, the rest of MLB has committed to bloating payroll and extending contracts to unbelievable numbers. As long as MLB revenues continue to increase by the billions, the numbers will continue to go up. And think about it — the economy isn’t exactly improving over the past few years, yet MLB teams are spending like Long Island housewives.

      Will the Mets ever catch up? How long before every MLB team plans for an annual $189M payroll?

      • Dan42 December 23, 2013 at 6:27 am
        If they signed Jose for 100M it would look like quite a bargain compared to those contracts.
      • DaveSchneck December 23, 2013 at 10:11 am
        Joe,
        No doubt that those older deals were suspect back then, and as Dan42 notes the Reyes deal doesn’t look so bad by today’s standards. Reality is that most of these FA deals don’t pan out, at least from the point of the purchase of the individual FA’s performance. However, it is a necessary evil to some degree in order to get or remain competitive.

        The fact that the Mets are not willing to go to $110 million to field a playoff caliber team in 2014 is simply a disgrace. Not that spending that amount is necessary to do so, or even a good idea. It really depends. And, despite all the public dodgeball by the GM/ownership comments on spending, they still have a chance to up the ante since we are three months from real games. Let’s see how the remainder of the offseason unfolds.

  5. argonbunnies December 23, 2013 at 10:53 pm
    Was Manny Ramirez the best huge contract in history?