Hong-Chih Kuo has parlayed reported interest from multiple teams into a major-league contract with the Mariners, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
After three years as one of the most dominant relievers in baseball Kuo was awful last year, allowing 29 runs in 27 innings. As usual he missed a ton of bats, racking up 36 strikeouts, but Kuo struggled to throw strikes with 23 walks and also battled anxiety issues.
Last season’s problems combined with a lengthy injury history led to Kuo being non-tendered by the Dodgers in December, but he’s still just 30 years old and given his 1.96 ERA and 201 strikeouts in 179 innings from 2008-2010 it’s easy to see why the Mariners took a flier on him.
Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.
The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.
That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.