UPDATE: According to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, the Orioles and Tae-Hyon Chong have agreed to a contract. Details to come.
6:20 PM: The Orioles are believed to be close to signing 33-year-old right-hander Tae-Hyon Chong, who would be the first player to jump directly from the Korean League to the majors.
MyKBO.net believes it will be a two-year, $3.2 million deal, and MASN’s Roch Kubatko confirms that a deal is approaching.
According to a Korean site linked to by MyKBO, Chong, a submariner, tops out at 85 mph with his sinking fastball and throws a curve. He had a 1.48 ERA, 16 saves and a 39/25 K/BB ratio in 54 2/3 innings for the SK Wyverns last year. He pitched for South Korea in the 2008 Olympics and had a 2.25 ERA and seven strikeouts in four innings as the gold medal-winning team’s closer.
Last month, free agent right-hander Bartolo Colon told reporters that he’d be open to taking a minor league deal in 2018, but only if he was guaranteed a return to the Mets’ system. The 44-year-old starter is nearing the end of a 20-year career, and it makes sense that he’d want to have one last hurrah in the city where he had some of his most productive years.
Now, Twins starter Ervin Santana tells Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, it looks like the Mets might also be open to a reunion. It’s doubtful that Colon has all that much left in the tank, especially following a combined 7-14 record and 6.48 ERA for the Braves and Twins last year, but he’s not necessarily looking to reproduce the 15+ win, sub-4.00 ERA totals of years past.
Instead, Santana says, Colon is seeking the opportunity to win just six more games. He’ll enter the 2018 season five wins shy of the all-time record for a Latin American-born player, and is hoping to claim that title for himself before he enters retirement in 2019. Former Orioles and Expos hurler Dennis Martinez currently holds the record after clinching his 245th win back in 1998. While it took Colon a full season of starts to come up with even seven wins in 2017, he’s only one year removed from a 15-win campaign in 2016. Provided that the Mets are willing to gamble on him again, the milestone may not be that far out of reach.