Updated: 12/28/2013 06:34 | By Agence France-Presse

South Korean star outfielder Choo joins Rangers

South Korean outfielder Choo Shin-Soo, among the most prized free agents this year, has signed a seven-year contract worth $130 million with Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers, the club announced Friday.


South Korean star outfielder Choo joins Rangers

Choo Shin-Soo of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after hitting his eighth inning home run during the National League Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on October 1, 2013

The 31-year-old Asian star signed the largest free agent deal in Rangers history, surpassed only by the team's 10-year deal worth $252 million to Alex Rodriguez in December of 2000.

"Today is a very special day," Choo said. "Thirteen years ago, I was 18. A kid. I didn't know anything. Just came here, just playing baseball, really working hard.

"Today is my dream come true. My next dream is to win a World Series ring."

Choo's average annual salary of $18.5 million ranks eighth among all major league outfielders. He will be paid $14 million for two years, $21 million for the two years after that and $20 million in each of the deal's last three years.

For that money, Choo will be expected to set up runs for the Rangers new slugger, Prince Fielder, and provide offensive support for a Rangers pitching rotation that includes Japanese ace Yu Darvish.

"I was looking for a winning team," Choo said of his decision to join the Rangers. "That's the most important thing for myself and my baseball career."

Choo has averaged .288 over nine North American seasons with Seattle, Cleveland and Cincinnati with 104 home runs and 427 runs batted in.

"We use the term 'good fit' a lot when we're looking at players to add in," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "I think in this case it was the perfect fit.

"His skill set, his personality, his personal goals and desires really line up perfectly with us and what our club needed. He has really been one of the most productive offensive players in the game for a period of time. He's extremely driven and really a perfect fit for what we're doing."

Last season for the Cincinnati Reds, Choo was the leadoff hitter and batted .285 with 21 homers, 54 runs batted in and 20 stolen bases as well being among the top five players in the league with 107 runs scored and a career-best .423 on-base percentage.

The Reds offered him only a one-year deal worth $14.1 million, which he rejected in favor of free agency.

Instead, Choo inked the third-best free agent deal of the off-season, trailing only second baseman Robinson Cano's 10-year contract for $240 million with Seattle and the seven-year deal for $153 million that the New York Yankees gave outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

Rangers manager Ron Washington said Choo will be a regular in left field but could see time in the other outfield positions as well.

"My intention is for Choo to be my leadoff hitter, but what Choo brings is versatility," Washington said. 

"There may be a time where I need him to hit in the middle of the lineup. There may be a time where I need him to hit down in the order.

"He's a young man that's bringing old-school values and that's what I like the most."

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