Choo negotiations at an impasse

Choo negotiations at an impasse

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Indians have made attempts to lock up right fielder Shin-Soo Choo with a long-term contract, but negotiations don't seem to be going anywhere.

Choo, who latched on with agent Scott Boras last month, is entering his final pre-arbitration season. He made $420,300 last season, and his contract for 2010 was renewed with a minimal raise. But that won't be the case in '11, when arbitration will cause Choo's value to increase considerably.

The Indians, under general manager Mark Shapiro, have developed a reputation for locking up their pre-arbitration core players before their values escalate. The most prominent example came in 2006, when they signed center fielder Grady Sizemore to a six-year, $23.45 million deal with a club option for '12. It was, at the time, the largest contract given to a player with less than two years of Major League service time.

What the Indians would ideally like to do with Choo, who was the only American League player to hit .300 with 20 homers and 20 steals last season, is sign the South Korean slugger to a five-year deal with a team option for a sixth. That way, they would buy out at least one and possibly two of his free-agent years, in addition to providing a clear picture of what Choo will haul in through his three arbitration years.

To date, neither Boras nor Choo have shown much interest in going that route. And with the season set to begin in less than a week, it appears the Spring Training juncture the Indians -- who don't comment publicly on contractual matters -- have used to negotiate with their core players in the past, won't lead to anything with the 27-year-old Choo.

"It's up to Boras and the Indians to figure that out," Choo said Tuesday. "That's not my job. My job is to worry about the team."

Boras declined to comment on the contract discussions.

Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is also arbitration-eligible at season's end and also fits the mold of the type of core player the Indians have shown interest in locking up long-term in the past. It is unclear whether the Indians have made an attempt to sign Cabrera, who is represented by Alan Nero, to a long term deal.