He led off yesterday’s Lukewarm Stove as the kind of player the Chicago Cubs might pursue, and I said, for that reason, we were likely to hear more about him as the offseason approaches. Well, it didn’t take long.
Suk-Min Yoon (or Seok-Min Yoon) is a 27-year-old righty free agent who has pitched for the past nine season in Korea (KBO), and is preparing to take his talents to the States for the 2014 season with the help of new agent Scott Boras. According to at least one report out of Korea, the Cubs might be the team receiving those talents.
Arirang News, frequently a solid source for baseball news out of Korea, says that Yoon has arrived in the United States, where he will presumably work out for teams, and connects him specifically to the Chicago Cubs and Minnesota Twins. Arirang claims “rumors” are that the Cubs are “keen on signing” Yoon.
Yoon, who started his KBO career at 19, doesn’t have stats that scream stud conversation to the States, but they’re good. For his career, Yoon’s got a 3.19 ERA in the KBO, which is well below league average (the KBO tends to be a little more offensively-inclinded than the NBP (Japan) – for reference, a 3.19 ERA is likely to put you in the top ten in the league every year).
That said, Yoon is coming off the worst year of his career, posting a 4.00 ERA, with 28 BBs and 76 Ks in just 87.2 innings. He spent a fair bit of time in the bullpen this year, after long being a starter, reportedly because he volunteered to move to the pen to help his struggling team out.
It’s unlikely that Yoon will command a significant contract, though his age and past success at least make him an intriguing target. For comparison’s sake, Yoon is a couple years older than Hyun-Jin Ryu, who came over from the KBO to the Dodgers this year and pitched extremely well. Ryu had a better career ERA (2.80), threw far more innings, struck out more per inning, walked fewer per inning, and was generally regarded as a harder-throwing pitcher with better stuff.
Even the Arirang report questions whether Yoon is a starter at the MLB level, or if he’s a middle reliever. Against all of that backdrop, he’ll be a guy to watch this offseason, and remains an interesting target for the Cubs. But an organization-shifting international signing (like a Masahiro Tanaka, for example), he likely is not.
A little video on Yoon, featuring lots of silly strikeouts: