Hong-Chih Kuo has been a mess all spring as he attempts to come back from elbow surgery and anxiety issues. Today the Mariners decided they’d seen enough, releasing the once-dominant left-hander.
When healthy Kuo has been one of the best relievers in baseball, logging 170 innings with a 1.96 ERA and 201 strikeouts from 2008-2010, but he coughed up 29 runs in 27 innings last season before going under the knife and got knocked around for 14 runs in 6.2 innings this spring.
Kuo’s one-year, $500,000 deal with Seattle would have jumped to $1 million if he cracked the Opening Day roster and included several million dollars in potential incentives. He was good enough recently enough that several teams will likely still be interested in taking a flier on Kuo, but he’ll almost surely have to settle for a minor-league deal and work his way back to the majors.
His most recent elbow surgery was the fifth of his career and Kuo has bounced back in the past, but at age 30 he’s a bigger question mark than ever and showed diminished velocity this month.
Former Tigers infielder Casey McGehee has reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
It’s the fourth move the corner infielder has made in the last two seasons after seeing short-term stints with the Marlins, Giants and Tigers. He signed a minor league deal with the Tigers prior to the 2016 season, providing the club with some infield depth behind 24-year-old Nick Castellanos. When Castellanos hit the disabled list in August with a broken hand, McGehee was recalled from Triple-A Toledo for a 30-game stint and slashed .228/.260/.239 with one extra-base hit in 96 PA. His career batting line (.258/.317/.384 over eight seasons) isn’t too shabby, but his age and a long history of knee injuries puts a damper on his potential.
McGehee last appeared in the NPB circuit in 2013, when he signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. He spent the bulk of his season at the hot corner, batting an impressive .292/.396/.515 with 28 homers in 590 PA and appearing in the Eagles’ first and only championship run to date.
The deal comes with a club option for 2018, Rosenthal reports, though no figure has been specified.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.