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.
The Rangers have signed catcher Jeff Mathis to a two-year contract, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The deal is pending a physical.
Mathis turns 36 years old at the end of March and has a career .564 OPS across 14 seasons, but he is well-regarded for his defense and ability to handle a pitching staff.
The arrival of Mathis could mean the Rangers are moving on from Robinson Chirinos behind the plate, as he is now a free agent. The Rangers could go after another catcher to complement Mathis or just have Isiah Kiner-Falefa back up Mathis. Though Kiner-Falefa mostly played elsewhere, including three spots across the infield, he did rack up over 300 defensive innings behind the plate in 2018.