Shin-Soo Choo has passed his physical, and the Texas Rangers are expected to announce a seven-year contract with the free agent outfielder at a 2:30 p.m. news conference Friday at Rangers Ballpark.
A Rangers’ press release late Thursday announced the news conference as “a major free agent signing,” but provided no other information.
Passing the physical was the last hurdle to make official the seven-year, $130 million agreement reached last Saturday between Choo and the Rangers. It’s the second-largest contract the Rangers have handed a free agent behind only the 10-year, $252 million deal they reached with Alex Rodriguez after the 2000 season.
Texas acquired another hefty contract this off-season when it traded for Prince Fielder on essentially a seven-year, $138 million contract.
Choo, 31, is known for his meticulous approach at the plate and will be penciled in as the Rangers’ leadoff batter for next season and beyond. The South Korean is a career .288 batter with a .389 on-base percentage. Last season, he had a career-high .423 OBP.
Choo has struggled against left-handed pitchers, especially the past two seasons, but has shown power and speed. He has three seasons with at least 20 home runs and four seasons with at least 20 stolen bases.
Choo spent last season with Cincinnati and the previous seven with Cleveland. The Rangers will need to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Choo.
Tanaka bidding open
The bidding for Japanese star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has begun.
All 30 major league teams were notified that the 30-day period to sign the star 25-year-old right-hander began Thursday, according to MLB spokesman Michael Teevan. Clubs have until 5 p.m. on Jan. 24 to attempt to reach an agreement with the ace.
If Tanaka and a major league team come to terms, that franchise is required to pay his Japanese club, the Rakuten Eagles, a posting fee, now capped at $20 million under a deal reached two weeks ago between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball.
Under the old, no-limit system, the Texas Rangers paid more than $50 million for the right to negotiate with Yu Darvish.
Tanaka will be represented by Excel Sports Management during the process. Other Excel Sports clients include Dodgers two-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
Rakuten rejected the new posting system but was outvoted in balloting by Japan’s 12 teams. The Japan Series champion then said it was going to retain Tanaka, whose rights it holds for two more seasons.
Eagles President Yozo Tachibana, however, changed course Wednesday, saying that Tanaka deserved a chance to play in the majors. Tachibana cited Tanaka’s 24-0 regular-season record with a 1.27 ERA and his “outstanding contribution to the team” over seven seasons as reasons for choosing to post the player.
A player who is not signed may not be posted again until the following Nov. 1.