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.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.
Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.
Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.
The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.