CLEVELAND – One year, for now, must do. But the Cleveland Indians hope to sign outfielder Shin-Soo Choo for much longer.
The club agreed to a one-year, $3.975 million contract with their best all-around player on Tuesday, avoiding salary arbitration with Choo and extending their streak of staying out of arbitration hearings to 20 years.
The Indians haven't gone to a hearing with any players since Jerry Browne and Gregg Swindell in 1991.
Cleveland also reached one-year deals with closer Chris Perez ($2.225 million) and set-up man Rafael Perez ($1.33 million) before the 1 p.m. deadline to exchange salary figures with any unsigned arbitration-eligible players. On Monday, the team finalized terms with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera ($2.025 million).
Choo's contract situation promised to be a challenge for new general manager Chris Antonetti, who had to negotiate with super agent Scott Boras. But the sides, who have had discussions on a long-term contract for Choo, were able to reach the one-year pact.
Antonetti did not provide any specifics about his talks with Boras. However, Antonetti indicated the sides will continue to work on a multiyear deal for the 28-year-old Choo, who batted .300 with 22 homers, 22 steals and 90 RBIs last season — all for $461,100.
He was one of only three major leaguers to hit .300 with 20 homers and 20 steals.
"I don't view negotiations as being closed at this point," Antonetti said.
One of baseball's most underrated players, Choo was recently granted an exemption from serving in the South Korean military after helping his country win a gold medal at the Asian Games.
Now, Choo and the Indians will get to work on improving their 69-93 mark from last season. And they'll do so with Chris Perez, who will begin the season with a fatter paycheck and a full-time job.
The right-hander opened last season in a set-up role, but was promoted to closer after Kerry Wood was traded to the New York Yankees in July. Perez flourished with the game on the line, finishing with 23 saves in 27 tries. His 1.71 ERA was second lowest among AL relievers. Perez converted 18 of his final 19 chances, including 10 straight to end the season.
Rafael Perez bounced back from an atrocious 2009 by going 6-1 with a 3.25 ERA in a team-high 70 games.