Arlington, Texas - The Texas Rangers announced today that the club has signed free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to a seven-year contract through the 2020 season. Financial terms were not disclosed, per club policy. To make room on the 40-man roster for Choo, the club has designated first baseman Chris McGuiness for assignment.
Choo played his lone season in the National League with Cincinnati in 2013, batting .285 with 21 home runs and 54 RBI while establishing career highs in runs scored, walks, and on-base percentage. He ranked among National League leaders in runs (2nd, 107), walks (2nd in NL/MLB, 112), on-base percentage (2nd, .423), multi-hit games (T5th, 52), and OPS (8th, .885). He also led the majors with a Reds team-record 26 hit by pitches, the most by any major league player since Philadelphia's Chase Utley had 27 in 2008. He was the National League's hardest to double up at 189.7 at-bats per grounded into double play, a figure that ranked 3rd in the majors. He was named the Reds Most Valuable Player after the campaign.
Over the last 6 seasons from 2008-13, Choo has batted .290 with a .392 on-base percentage and .469 slugging mark. The only other players with figures as high as Choo over that 6-year span (minimum 1750 plate appearances) in those 3 categories are Miguel Cabrera, Chipper Jones, Joe Mauer, Albert Pujols, and Joey Votto. Since the start of 2009, Choo's .392 on-base percentage ranks 5th in the majors (minimum 1500 plate appearances), just behind new teammate Prince Fielder (.400), who ranks 4th on that list. Choo's 556 times on base over the past 2 seasons ranks 3rd in the majors behind only Mike Trout (564) and Miguel Cabrera (562).
In 2013, the South Korea native became one of just eight players in major league history (20 instances) with minimums of 30 doubles, 20 home runs, 20 steals, 100 walks, and 100 runs scored in a season. The others to do it: Bobby Abreu (6 times), Barry Bonds (4), Joe Morgan (3), Jeff Bagwell (3), Grady Sizemore, Chipper Jones, and Mike Trout (also in 2013).
Last season, Choo led all MLB leadoff hitters in walks and on-base percentage, and was just one behind Oakland's Coco Crisp for the leadoff lead in home runs. His 6 home runs to lead off games last year was also a major league-high. His 288 times on base from the leadoff slot in 2013 marked the 3rd-highest figure in the majors in the last 13 seasons, trailing only a pair of efforts by Ichiro Suzuki (290 in 2007, 300 in 2004).
Over a nine-year major league career, Choo has batted .288 with 104 home runs and 427 RBI in 853 games with Seattle (2005-06), Cleveland (2006-12), and Cincinnati (2013). He was originally signed by the Mariners in August 2000 and traded to Cleveland on July 26, 2006. He was then involved in a three-team trade on December 11, 2012 that sent him to Cincinnati.
McGuiness saw his first major league action with Texas last season, batting .176 (6-34) with one double and one RBI in 10 games. He spent the rest of the year with Triple-A Round Rock, batting .246 (89-362) with 29 doubles, 11 home runs, and 63 RBI in 104 games with the Express. The Rangers have 10 days to trade, release, or outright McGuiness to the minor leagues.
With today's transactions, the Rangers still have a full 40-man roster.