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[Newsmaker] Choo joins Texas Rangers on $130m contract

Dec. 22, 2013 - 20:22 By Korea Herald
Choo Shin-soo

Choo Shin-soo of South Korea has agreed to the biggest-ever contract for an Asian player in the U.S. professional baseball free agent market.

A report on the Major League Baseball website said Sunday that outfielder Choo agreed to a seven-year, $130 million contract with the Texas Rangers.

The deal will be finalized if Choo passes a physical test, which is expected to be done by Christmas. Any formal introduction in Texas would likely wait until after the holiday.

Once signed, it will be the highest-ever contract for a Korean major leaguer. The previous high was a five-year, $65 million deal that Park Chan-ho signed with the Texas Rangers in late 2001.

It will also be the largest for a major leaguer from Asia. The previous record was a five-year, $90 million (95.5 billion won) deal inked by Japanese-born outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and the Seattle Mariners in 2007.

Choo’s deal is the third highest this off-season, behind second baseman Robinson Cano (10 years, $240 million with Seattle) and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (seven years, $153 million with the New York Yankees).

According to the Associated Press, his deal calls for salaries of $14 million each in 2014 and 2015, $21 million in 2016 and 2017, and $20 million in each of the last three years. He would earn a bonus for finishing in the top five of the American League ballots for Most Valuable Player ― from $250,000 as the winner to $50,000 for fifth place. He would get a $150,000 bonus for being a World Series MVP, and an additional $100,000 for being an AL championship series MVP or All-Star, or for winning a Silver Slugger or Golden Glove award.

The deal slso includes a limited no-trade clause, with Choo able to submit a list each year of 10 teams he cannot be dealt to without his consent.

Choo’s left-handed bat is expected to play very well in Texas. He was one of the top leadoff hitters in the majors for the Cincinnati Reds in 2013 with a .423 on-base percentage, a .285 batting average, 21 homers, 54 RBIs, 20 steals and 107 runs scored. His on-base percentage for the Reds was the fourth highest in the majors.

Choo made his MLB debut with the Mariners’ Class-A affiliate, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, in 2005.

By Chun Sung-woo (