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suk-min yoonWith a rotation that already featured three starters who absolutely will not be displaced (Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, Travis Wood), and one starter the Cubs very much want to give a shot (Jake Arrieta), it’s long been a fair bet that, this offseason, the Cubs would grab just one clear starting pitcher this offseason. The Cubs have reportedly done that with Jason Hammel, and the rest of the additions are of the “depth” variety – guys like Tsuyoshi Wada, Brett Marshall, etc.

Case closed, no more starting pitcher signings, stop reading, etc. Right?

Well, probably. But there are a handful of things to keep in mind: (1) Hammel, as discussed yesterday, comes with some potential injury nervousness and the ability to pitch in the bullpen if it comes to that; (2) while everyone wants to see Arrieta finally break out as a starter, some believe he could be very, very good in the bullpen; (3) this front office will get value wherever it can find it, even where it is inconvenient; and (4) this front office brought in more starting options last year than initially made sense, and that worked out well.

So, continuing to pursue another starting option, while unlikely, is conceivable. That is particularly true where there could be long-term potential, say, for example, where the pitcher at issue is a 27-year-old free agent with upside.

That free agent is Korean righty Suk-Min Yoon, who has been discussed at length here before. The gist: prior to 2013, he was considered the second best starting pitcher in the KBO (Korea’s highest league) behind Hyun-Jin Ryu, who came to the States last year and pitched extremely well. But, in 2013, Yoon suffered a shoulder injury that sapped him of considerable velocity, and forced a move to the bullpen. What exactly a signing team is getting is largely unknown, but agent Scott Boras has still reportedly been asking for a tidy sum to get Yoon.

Early in the offseason, the Cubs were heavily attached to Yoon, but those mentions have trailed off. Well, until recently, that is.

At least two reports out of Korea indicate that the Cubs remain among at least five teams – Twins, Rangers, Orioles, Giants – interested in signing Yoon. Boras told Jon Morosi that number is actually more like six or seven, and Yoon is “very close” to a deal.

The Orioles are likely the most pitching-needy team among that group (but could Yoon pass the infamous Oriole physical?), and they have reportedly made Yoon a formal offer. A source tells Drew Davison that Yoon will throw today in Arizona for the Rangers, who could use Yoon to help fill the temporary void left by Derek Holland’s injury. The Giants (and the Orioles) reportedly attended a private Yoon workout last week.

With Spring Training just around the corner, Yoon is likely to land a deal within a matter of days. We’ll see if the Cubs remained involved until the end, or if they were viewing Hammel and Yoon as alternative options. It’s conceivable that the Cubs are remaining “in” on Yoon until the Hammel deal is finalized, just in case something with the physical scuttles the latter one. And, for his part, maybe Yoon is waiting to sign once he’s certain the Cubs are out.

Or maybe the Cubs view signing Yoon as a pure asset-gathering strategy, and the complications his presence would add to the rotation picture are of no moment. (Plus, adding Yoon would provide additional cover for the Cubs to shop Jeff Samardzija. Just noting that.)

  • DarthHater

    I just don’t see how the Cubs can pass up any player named Suk…

  • kj1

    Either way, we’ll find out real Yoon!

    • Ivy Eater

      Wait one Min… ?? Meh..

  • Jon

    Not that it’s really important, but I’m curious why a IFA would sign with a snake like Boras? I know $$$ but Tanaka got a nice payday without that leach.

    • waittilthisyear

      Boras may not endear himself to fans or front offices, but he is the best at what he does.

      • IA_Colin

        Relative to the only one making headlines? I know he’s not the only agent to play hardball. I’d like to see an agency breakdown of how much more money they get their clients compared to that year’s “market”. Define market at will.

        • ClevelandCubsFan

          Ooo sabermetric anslyses of agents. Yes please.

    • Funn Dave

      As an IFA, he may not be as exposed to the negative publicity Boras has gotten.

      • dw8

        Yeah, that Snake Boras, who you know, gets money for the people who are doing the actual work that makes more money for the really rich guys.

  • Kyle

    We usually get a “you never know, but we’re probably all done” quote from Hoyer about this time. The fact that we haven’t gotten one kind if raises my curiosity.

    There was also a report today that we’re still curious about Arroyo if the price comes down.

    • Jason P

      I’d be very much in favor of an Arroyo signing. Definitely an upgrade over Arrieta.

      • BlameHendry

        Arroyo is extremely consistent and reliable, but his ceiling is a #4 (MAAAYBE a #3…) on most rotations at this point in his career. That’s the kind of pitcher that is perfect for a win-now team and useless for the Cubs. Arrieta has a higher ceiling than Arroyo and obviously costs only a fraction. Let the kid have his chance, he earned it after the end of last year. With a 90+ loss club, what do you have to lose by taking a chance on Arrieta?

        • CubFan Paul

          Jinx.

      • CubFan Paul

        Arrieta has a shit ton of upside though. & because of theo&co’s roster shuffling they kept Arrieta pre-arb this year.

        $500K to find out if Bosio can fix Arrieta (in another lost, rebuilding year) should be the focus, not winning two more games.

        • willis

          Yeah I agree here. I love Arrieta’s upside and what he could bring to the club IF he can find consistency. I think he pitched well enough down the stretch to get a shot at the rotation.

    • rabbit

      An Arroyo singing makes more sense if Samardzija is traded or if the FO feels they are likely to deal him before Opening Day. Yoon makes more sense because he along with Villenueva can start in the bullpen and end up in the rotation after they trade away Shark and Hammel at deadline.

  • Patrick W.

    If the Cubs sign Suk-Min Yoon, I’m hoping he does some kick-ass Korean commercials like Hyun-Jin Ryu does.

    I watch entirely too much KBS, and Jin does two of my favorite Korean commercials:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIbYipmYVbo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOOODEeW4iw

    • DarthHater

      Hyun-Jin looks like he should cut back a bit on the fried chicken…

  • nate1m

    If Yoon came out of the pen last year he could again I would think. That way if Arrieta flops you have backup even if you trade Shark. (Yoon, Hammel, Villanueva)

    Hell, if you flip Hammel you still have a lot of AAA depth that could be up mid season

    • baldtaxguy

      Good thought.

  • BlameHendry

    Yoon is just one of those guys that you know our FO is drooling over. I would not be surprised if he signed with the Cubs and I also wouldn’t be surprised if he flopped in the MLB. I can’t believe Boras has the nerve to ask so much for a mediocre fallback option. Actually I can. It’s Boras.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Boras is the absolute best at what he does. He habitually gets maximum value (and then some) for his clients. Hence why there is a line of players waiting for him to be their agent.

      The fact that fans hate Boras is the biggest praise that can be heaped on the guy.

      • mjhurdle

        There is a 0% chance that fans hating Boras is the biggest praise that he can get.

        There is a 75% chance that getting his clients the most money would be the biggest praise, and 25% chance that the players like him is the biggest praise.

      • Jon

        Four of the top five paid players in the game are represented by someone other than Scott Boras. There are plenty of guys that do as good as job as he does without being the proverbial penis 24/7.

  • salesguy

    Anyone can feel free to respond to this, as I am not sure, and looking for some clarity. Wasn’t there some question early on, on whether Yoon could stick in an ML rotation? Couldn’t remember if that was because of the arm injury, stuff, or what. But, wasn’t he being looked at early on, as a 5/bullpen guy? If so, could we still be in? If he and Hammell could square off in spring training, loser could go to the pen. Like I said, I could be wrong on this, anyone please feel free to correct if so.

  • 2015

    At foot-strike, Yoon’s arm is at a very bad position in regards to shoulder health. That could explain his shoulder injury woes.

  • Edwin

    I don’t think Arrieta will be a decent starter or a very good bullpen arm. I think he ends up being a middle reliever/ long man.

    • CubFan Paul

      “I don’t think Arrieta will be a decent starter”

      Why? He has been before.

      • willis

        I’m much higher on him than most, and could be proven very wrong on how wooly I am. I could see him busting way out also. his arm intrigues me so much…with good instruction who knows?

        • CubFan Paul

          I saw enough late last year to convince me he still has the Opening Day Stuff he had before falling out of favor with the O’s coaches

        • Edwin

          Who’s to say he wasn’t receiving good instruction in Baltimore? I love his stuff, but 3/4 years he’s been in the league his stuff hasn’t come close to lining up with actual results.

          I hope I’m wrong, but some pitchers you just can’t fix.

          • CubsFaninMS

            I was reading an Orioles message board awhile back discussing the Orioles farm system and developing pitching talent. Some Orioles fans get the sense that their pitching talent is poorly developed in the minor leages. They’ve seen several high upside pitchers fall to the wayside. Maybe it’s luck of the draw… or maybe there’s an opportunity for us to maximize the value of a pitcher who is capable of more.

      • Edwin

        He was decent for 114 innings in 2012. The other 295 innings he’s pitched in his career he’s been bad. I’m usually pretty pessamistic when it comes to players improving by that much, especially in Jake’s case where he turns 28 in March. I see him being a similar version of Chris Volstad.

        • willis

          He’ll be an intriguinig player to focus on no doubt.

          • Edwin

            Oh, I definitely agree with that. And for that matter, he’s at least interesting to watch. Those rare moments when he does have everything working, he looks about as dominating as a guy can look on the mound.

            • willis

              Yep. You never know (to this point in his career) what the hell you’re going to get from start to start. But man he has some nasty stuff when he puts it all together. And there’s just enough there to keep me hanging on to the hope he can light it up.

              I’m eager to see a lot of the young guys in camp, but as far as immediate 2014 impact, Arrieta and Olt are going to be very interesting to watch.

            • twinkletoez

              I am hoping Arrieta is our version (slightly less) of Homer Bailey. I know he doesn’t have the pedigree of Bailey but he was a top 100 prospect in the past.

              Looking over their first 3 full seasons ( seasons in which they pitched 100+ innings) their numbers are, very arguably, similar. Especially if you take into account how bad Baltimore was in 2010 and 2011 and they play in the AL East.

              There were a lot of people calling Homer Bailey a bust, after struggling for 5 seasons, before the 2012 season.

              Arrieta has the stuff to be a very solid pitcher, lets hope he puts it together.

              • aaronb

                I’m thinking he’s going to be closer to Kershaw. Or maybe Steve Carlton.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Arrieta is too much of a wildcard and Hammel too much of an injury risk to not keep adding pitching. NEVER confuse quantity for quality. And as Dick Williams used to say, “there is no such thing as a team having too much good pitching.”

    • DarthHater

      There is a 0% chance the Cubs will have too much good pitching in 2014. ;-)

  • Cubbie in NC

    Boras may get his clients the most money, but I question if he puts his clients where they will have the most success.

    I think he is more about the highest dollar than he is about finding clubs and places for guys to be happy and play their best.

    I did love how he backed into the number that MLB gives teams to call out the teams that are not spending though.

    • mjhurdle

      I think that most of his clients care more about getting the most money than landing in a spot they play their best.

      I could be wrong, but I think getting the most money is more difficult than simply placing a player where he wants to go.
      Getting a team to pay 300 million dollars is a tough task. But putting a good pitcher on the team he wants to go to and that is interested in his services is not nearly as hard, in my opinion.

      • When The Musics Over

        Boras doesn’t force any of his clients to choose where they sign. He provides them with options. The players always have ultimate say in where they’re going.

  • Fastball

    I think the Cubs need to keep signing pitchers. Yoon and Arroyo both make sense. We don’t have a veteran starter who has been successful other than Jackson. I am way out on a limb calling him successful. I think Arroyo can be a veteran leader and this team needs guys in leadership roles. Shark may not be here on opening day. If so we have very little veteran presence to speak of. I think Hammels and Arroyo are real flip candidates. They both might sign just to be flipped. They pitch well for half season and end up on a contender.

    • Edwin

      Capuano could be another arm to consider.

  • http://BleacherNation blewett

    A 36-year-old bottom-of-the-rotation SP and a Korean pitcher with a shredded arm. Yeah, that’s just what we need.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Huh?

  • Diehardthefirst

    How can I get a piece of the scorecard concession! Every game will be different

  • NorthSideIrish

    TR Sullivan (@Sullivan_Ranger) tweeted at 4:56 PM on Tue, Feb 04, 2014:
    Suk-Min Yoon threw 30 pitches for the Rangers and the Cubs on Tuesday. Big thing is his health. Not close to signing. Wants multi-year deal

    FWIW…Cubs still showing interest

  • Jorbert Solmora

    From the videos I’ve watched, KBO hitters struggle with the hanging backup slider over the middle of the plate..

  • bushybrows74

    Why is Boras a penis again?

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