There are some guys whose movements I’ll always track no matter how far away they get from major league baseball. Jose Canseco. Jose Lima before he died (and don’t think I won’t post more stuff about him eventually). Another one is Byung-Hyun Kim, who has fascinated me for years. NPB Tracker reports that he has signed a deal with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Japanese Pacific League.
Why do I care about Kim? I don’t know. Probably because of those home runs he gave up in the 2001 World Series to Paul O’Neill and Tino Martinez. At the time I was really glad that the Diamondbacks came back and won it because it would have been devastating for the guy if he was made the goat. But as it has happened, he has still been a big enough punchline as a result of it. Unlike the Bill Buckners of the world, however, he hasn’t gotten the sympathetic reassessment that truly infamous goats often get. Probably doesn’t help that, unlike Buckner, Kim wasn’t an outstanding player for many years. The fact that he’s Korean is likely another factor.
He’s a curiosity to me I suppose, as are all people who are identified so strongly by dubious achievements.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have inked outfielder Eric Young, Jr. to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Young, 31, played in just six games and logged one plate appearance in the majors this past season with the Yankees. He last played regularly in 2014. While Young doesn’t do much with the bat, he could provide value as a pinch-runner. He also offers versatility, having played all three outfield positions along with second base.
The Angels have Ben Revere as their fourth outfielder and Jefry Marte behind him, so Young would need to have a very impressive showing in spring training to find a spot on the Angels’ roster.
Update (5:20 PM EST): It’s a minor league contract, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. If he makes the major league roster, Saltalamacchia will earn $1.25 million with an additional $250,000 available through incentives.
The Blue Jays are close to a deal with free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet is reporting.
Saltalamacchia, 31, hit a meager .171/.284/.346 with 12 home runs and 38 RBI in 292 plate appearances with the Tigers this past season. With Russell Martin getting regular playing time behind the plate, Saltalamacchia will serve as his understudy, pushing A.J. Jimenez and Juan Graterol down on the depth chart.
The veteran catcher isn’t far removed from being a productive backstop. He had an .805 OPS in 70 games with the Diamondbacks in 2015 and also helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2013 with an .804 OPS in 121 games.