ARLINGTON, Texas — Shin-Soo Choo will be the leadoff hitter for the Texas Rangers in an offense they feel they have successfully remade this offseason.
Choo was formally introduced Friday, nearly a week after agreeing to a $130 million, seven-year deal.
“It was a perfect fit,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “His skill set, his personality, his personal goals and desires really line up up perfectly with ours and what our club needed. … He’s really been one of the most productive offensive players in the game for a period of time now.”
The 31-year-old South Korean outfielder has a .288 career average and .389 on-base percentage in 853 major-league games for Seattle (2005-06), Cleveland (2006-12) and Cincinnati (2013).
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Choo has at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases three times, including last season when he started 150 games in center field and was the primary leadoff hitter for the Reds in his only year there.
With numerous teams interested during free agency, Choo said he was looking for a winning team and somewhere his wife and three young children would be comfortable.
“The Texas Rangers were the best fit for me,” Choo said. “It was very easy to pick.”
Agent Scott Boras called it a “tremendous baseball fit” for both sides.
Texas last month acquired five-time All-Star first baseman Prince Fielder from Detroit in a trade for second baseman Ian Kinsler.
Only Mike Trout (564) and Miguel Cabrera (562) have reached base more the last two seasons than Choo (556) and Fielder (542).
“We talked early on about our desire to remake our offense, both in personnel, but also equally importantly in style,” Daniels said. “We feel very good about what we’ve been able to accomplish to this point.”
Texas missed the playoffs for the first time in four years and scored only 730 runs, its fewest in a non-strike season since 1992.
Choo was presented jersey No. 17, which had been worn by free-agent slugger Nelson Cruz, the 2011 AL Championship Series MVP who hit 27 home runs with 76 RBI in 109 games for Texas last season. Cruz was suspended 50 games after Major League Baseball’s investigation into a Florida clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs, but returned to play in the AL wild-card tiebreaker game the Rangers lost.
The addition of Choo, whose salary will average about $18.6 million per season, also lessens the likelihood of Texas being serious bidders for Japanese star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.
Rangers co-owner Bob Simpson said the team is ‘comfortable where we are in terms of financial commitment “ and that “Tanaka would be a tough thing.”
The Texas payroll is expected to be over $130 million next season.
Rangers manager Ron Washington plans to play Choo in left field and utilize him at the top of the batting order. He had a .423 OBP with Cincinnati and scored 107 runs last season.
• The Chicago Cubs say they have agreed to a one-year contract with reliever Jose Veras that includes a club option for 2015.
Veras is due $3.85 million next season, and the Cubs have a $5.5 million option for 2015 with a $150,000 buyout. He can make an additional $750,000 annually in performance bonuses based on games finished.