Realistically, Cherington and the front office won’t sign any free agent to a deal of five or more years until they identify that player as a 100 perfect fit for the organization both immediately and long term.
The best teams build their cores from within and use free agency to add the necessary players to put them over the top. Sometimes, that player is a superstar.
In past offseasons, the Red Sox would have been considered very much in the running to sign someone like Choo.
After all, the Red Sox need a leadoff hitter. Choo is a leadoff hitter.
The Red Sox also need a center fielder. Choo is a center fielder.
Additionally, Choo’s offensive approach fits Boston’s grind-it-out philosophy perfectly. The 31-year-old left-handed hitting Choo has speed, 20-homer power and his .423 on-base percentage in 2013 ranked fourth among all major leaguers, behind only Miguel Cabrera (.442), Joey Votto (.435) and Mike Trout (.432). His ability to get on base at a high rate likely will allow him to be a productive hitter as he ages.
Choo would be a perfect immediate fix to replaced Ellsbury.
But Choo isn’t the perfect fit long term because he is a below-average defender (and is better off playing a corner outfield spot), he struggles against left-handed pitching, he probably isn’t going to get any better as a hitter and Boston already has a 23-year-old center field prospect Jackie Bradley Jr., who is considered an above average defender with similar on-base percentage potential.
Bradley still needs to improve as a hitter and he might struggle against left-handed pitchers this coming year. There also is a good possibility Bradley’s offensive totals in 2014 won’t come near Choo’s.
But the Red Sox aren’t thinking about just 2014. They are thinking about the next five to seven years and they trust in Bradley’s potential.