Making official what was reported Sunday, the Cardinals have signed Korean reliever Seung-Hwan Oh to a one-year contract with a team option for 2017.
Oh has a spectacular, decade-plus track record of dominance–for eight years in Korea and the last two years in Japan–saving 357 games with a 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts in 646 innings through age 32. That includes a 2.73 ERA and 66/16 K/BB ratio in 69 innings last season, during which Oh saved 41 games in the Japanese League.
St. Louis is set at closer with Trevor Rosenthal, but in announcing the signing general manager John Mozeliak indicated that Oh will be given an opportunity to claim a prominent late-inning bullpen role. Oh is a legend in Korea–his nicknames are “The Final Boss” and Stone Buddha”–and this signing has a chance to be an underrated pickup for the Cardinals.
Billy Beane and the A’s have traded away enough big-name players over the years to make no one seem untouchable, but the Oakland final boss revealed that he’s turned down “some pretty aggressive suitors” for ace right-hander Sonny Gray this offseason.
Here’s more of what Beane told MLB Network Radio, via Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com:
We were adamant that we wanted to hold on to Sonny. I don’t think any GM can ever say, “This is never gonna happen.” That being said, we have resisted some pretty aggressive suitors this winter and anticipate that being the case going forward. The guy’s a No. 1 starter, a two-plus [year player in terms of service time], an anchor for any staff, and particularly ours.
The service time aspect mentioned by Beane is particularly key, because in addition to being just 26 years old Gray is under team control through 2019. Once he starts to get expensive and free agency is around the corner then trading Gray for young, low-cost talent might fit what the A’s typically try to do with their roster, but that time is at least a year or two away.
Right now he is young, low-cost talent.
Dan Jennings, who went from the Marlins’ front office to managing the team before being relieved of both jobs, is now joining the Nationals’ front office.
Jennings had a 55-69 (.444) record as manager, which is pretty bad but not nearly as bad as many people expected based on the ridicule of his front office-to-dugout transition.
Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reports that Jennings will work under general manager Mike Rizzo as a special assistant and scout, which fits given his extensive history in a wide variety of roles before shockingly being tapped as a first-time manager by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria.
Right-hander Jordan Lyles and the Rockies have avoided arbitration with a one-year, $2.475 million deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
Lyles underwent season-ending surgery in early June to repair a damaged ligament in his toe, finishing with a 5.14 ERA in 10 starts. Two seasons ago he showed a lot more promise with a 4.33 ERA in 127 innings.
As if often the case when a significant injury is involved, Lyles is accepting the same salary he was paid in 2015 and will not get a standard raise via the arbitration system. At age 25 and with a 5.10 career ERA this will be a crucial season for Lyles.
Jack Curry of YES Network reports that the Yankees have acquired right-hander Kirby Yates from the Indians for cash considerations.
Yates was designated for assignment earlier this week after an ugly 2015 season, but he pitched well for the Rays in 2014 and has 63 strikeouts in 56 total innings as a big leaguer through age 28.
Yates also has a 2.33 ERA and 162/44 K/BB ratio in 112 innings at Triple-A, so he should get a chance to compete for a middle relief spot in the Yankees’ bullpen during spring training. However, as an extreme fly-ball pitcher he’s seemingly a poor fit to call Yankee Stadium home.