‘Grandson of the Wind’ Lee Jung-hoo and ‘Korean Monster’ Ryu Hyun-jin are raising the stakes in Major League Baseball’s free agent market. Lee is a newcomer to the big leagues and is highly regarded for his potential. Ryu, who has flapped his resurgent wings this year, gets points for experience and longevity. While much has been written about Lee Jung-hoo and Ryu Hyun-jin, little has been said about “hotchpotch” Choi.
Choi is facing a sobering reality. He’s coming off his worst performance of the year. After moving from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Pittsburgh Pirates, he came into this season with a lot of enthusiasm. However, he was plagued by injuries and never really got going. He was eventually traded to the San Diego Padres during the season. He also failed to rebound in San Diego.
This season, he is batting .163 with 17 doubles, six home runs, 13 RBIs, and 12 runs scored in 104 at-bats in 39 games. After being traded to San Diego, he was held to a .065 batting average with two RBIs in 16 games. Injuries prevented him from finding his form, and he ended the season almost empty-handed after going through the heartache of a trade.
He may have hit rock bottom, but the door is still wide open for a new contract. There are quite a few teams that could be interested in the right-handed bat of Choi. First, the top free agents need to be signed before Choi can start looking for a new home. With the kind of power and defense he showed during his time with the Tampa Bay Rays, it’s not hard to imagine a team putting him on their short list.
After graduating from Seoheung Secondary School, Dongdaemun Middle School, and Dongdaemun High School, Choi moved to the United States in 2009, signing with the Seattle Mariners on an international amateur contract (SEA). He made his big league debut in 2016 with the Los Angeles Angels in the Rule 5 Draft. He went on to play for the New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and San Diego. In 2018, he broke out with Tampa Bay, hitting .261 with 19 home runs and 63 RBIs in 127 games. However, he struggled with the platoon system and parted ways with Tampa Bay at the end of last season, and was unsuccessfully resurrected by Pittsburgh and San Diego this season.
Choi is currently training privately in Korea and waiting for a new contract.