One of the many offseason story lines in baseball given MLB’s increasingly global reach is which top players from around the world will be coming to the States the next year. For Cuban players, that means stories about defections and residency (and ever-escalating contracts). For Japanese and Korean players, that means stories about posting.
And, hey, we’ve got the first posted player of the offseason! It’s Korean lefty Kwang-Hyun Kim, who was posted a couple days ago. Teams now have 30 days to submit a blind bid for his rights, with the highest bid securing the opportunity to sign the 26-year-old lefty (recall: the posting system for Korean players is the same old blinding bidding system it’s always been; only the system for Japanese players changed last year to the $20 million max bid system).
As I wrote previously, I’m not sure what to make of Kim:
For years, Kim was one of the best pitchers in Korea, consistently posting elite numbers until (reportedly) injury issues derailed him from 2011 to 2013. He bounced back in a big way in 2014, when, despite the extreme offensive explosion in the KBO, Kim posted a 3.39 ERA. His peripherals, however, nearly matched his career marks, and they’re not overly compelling. For example, Kim sports a career 7.6 K/9 and an ugly 4.1 BB/9 – those numbers would undoubtedly worsen in MLB, and it’s virtually impossible to succeed in the big leagues with a K/9 under seven and a BB/9 well over four.
By contrast, Ryu’s KBO numbers were closer to 9.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. Yoon’s were around 8.0 and 3.0, respectively.
If your scouting department digs the raw stuff – it sounds like he pitches in the upper 80s with a decent slider – then maybe you take a bet on a guy who could be a lefty reliever, and dream on him as a back-end starter.
But the reality is, you might wind up with nothing at all.
We’ll see if the posting bids wind up being significant. It seems unlikely.
But there is now a second 26-year-old lefty who may be posted out of Korea, and who could be a little more intriguing. Hyeon-Jong Yang sports slightly better peripherals than Yang, especially in the last two years when it seems he may have been coming into his own (K/9 around 8.5, BB/9 around 3.9).
In his report on the possibility that Yang is posted, Mark Feinsand writes that Yang works in the 92 to 95mph range, and is the best pitcher in Korea. His upside is that of a middle-of-the-rotation starter in MLB, or maybe better, according to at least one scout. If true, Yang could find himself with a number of suitors, and the posting bids could exceed $20 million (with the contract to be signed after that). Hyun-Jin Ryu, who was probably better regarded than Yang, netted a $25.7 million bid from the Dodgers a couple years ago, together with a six-year, $36 million contract, and that is looking like solid investment.
Feinsand mentions the Cubs as a possible suitor for Yang, though he’s basically just listing teams that are looking for pitching.
We’ll see if more about Yang comes up once he’s posted, because I’ll confess that I know very little about him. You can watch a whole lot of him in action here: