Mariners Sign Hong-Chih Kuo

TUESDAY: Kuo's $500K guarantee increases to $1MM on the active roster, and he can earn another $2.25MM in incentives, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

MONDAY: The Mariners signed lefty reliever Hong-Chih Kuo to a one-year, Major League contract, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times.  Kuo has passed his physical, notes ESPN's Jayson Stark.  The Mariners will have to create a spot on the 40-man roster for Kuo, who is represented by Octagon.

Kuo, 30, allowed an earned run per inning in a difficult 2011 season with the Dodgers.  With a 1.96 ERA, 10.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.37 HR/9, and 5.8 H/9 in 170 innings, Kuo had been one of the game's most dominant relievers over the three prior seasons when healthy.  He had a DL stint for an anxiety disorder last season, and in October endured his fifth career elbow surgery.  

Kuo, a native of Taiwan, will again team up with Mariners offseason acquisition George Sherrill.  They'll presumably be setting up closer Brandon League.

After Kuo was non-tendered by the Dodgers in December, they continued to show interest, as did a few other unknown West Coast teams.  As our free agent tracker shows, Mike Gonzalez and Arthur Rhodes are now the top available lefty relievers.

40 Responses to Mariners Sign Hong-Chih Kuo Leave a Reply

  1. chico65 3 years ago

    Nice low risk, possible high reward signing.

  2. No 1 year deal is a bad deal. Low risk with nice upside here. Possible trade chip in July.

  3. bobbylu 3 years ago

    Decent pickup if Kuo can figure things out again.

    • alan104 3 years ago

      Exactly what I was thinking. He had a really decent 2010 season.

      • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

        A monster 2010, following two really good seasons.

        • 王威評 3 years ago

          His 2010 against left handed hitting was simply unhittable.
          No doubt the best lefty specialist when healthy.

  4. scott4 3 years ago

    Why not take a chance with Kuo? He was unbelievable in ’09-’10. Good place to try to regain that form. Mariners should have a good, cheap bullpen if Sherrill and Kuo both work out.

  5. Seattle may be a good place to deal with his anxiety. Does anyone know if rain has any effect?

    • The_Unnatural 3 years ago

      It actually doesn’t rain that much in Seattle during baseball season.

      • damnitsderek 3 years ago

        Yes it does.

        • Jeremy Johnson 3 years ago

          No it doesnt. Only people who dont live in Seattle say such things.

          • damnitsderek 3 years ago

            I live in Seattle. Frequent rain/miserable weather up until about mid-August.

    • michael hughes 3 years ago

      I don’t think that rain is particularly linked to anxiety in any way, but weather can have a significant influence on someone’s mood. The DSM-IV lists Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD) as a mood disorder with depression like symptoms resulting from the effects of weather. SAD is mostly linked to a lack of natural light that occurs during Autumn and Winter and would probably not be an issue for Kuo, but it just goes to show that it is possible for weather to have a strong impact on someone. I doubt that Kuo would sign in Seattle if he thought the weather would be an issue though.

      • Lunchbox45 3 years ago

        considering he was in LA last year, I doubt any of his issues are weather related

    • Michael Hopcroft 3 years ago

      It’s surprising more anxiety disorders don’t pop up in the high-pressure world of professional sports. As to whether Kuo will enjoy playing in Seattle, there’s a chance he may start the regular season in Tacoma. I’m more concerned with his reconstructed elbow than I am with his head right now.

  6. Manfrenjensen 3 years ago

    Is it safe to assume that when MLBTR includes a phrase like “Kuo, who is represented by Octagon” in their post that the information was provided by the agency?  I seem to notice a lot of Octagon shout-outs in posts.

  7. Wes Whitenack 3 years ago

    Nice job getting some good cheap relievers for the pen. 

  8. PWNdroia 3 years ago

    Deleted post

    • $3828999 3 years ago

      Because they will now have 3 on their 40 man roster.  Because no one else in the majors hails from the continent of Asia.  Because they shouldn’t use the sole geographical advantage they have vs. the rest of baseball.  Because you have no prejudice against “Asian” players and always point out the region players originally came from by, for instance, soon making a reference to how many Mexican players the D’back have or how many Latino players the Angels have.  Because you think normal baseball fans actually care about stuff like this.  

      • m4r1n3r 3 years ago

        Nicely done sir. PWNED PWNdroia

      • PWNdroia 3 years ago

        I was only joking I didn’t mean it like that… sorry.

      • michael hughes 3 years ago

        To be fair the Mariners have an Asian ownership company, the largest asian following of any MLB team, and have been more dedicated to fielding players of Asian ancestry than most teams, even giving out questionable contracts such as Kenji Johjima’s. Now, there’s nothing wrong with signing players of Asian descent, but unlike other teams who sign players of Latin descent some people have questioned whether the signings were made for marketing reasons rather than because they were in the best interests of building a winning team. 
        Still, I’m only giving the other side, I think Iwakuma, Kuo, and Ichiro are all players many MLB teams would be glad to have on their team and I believe two of the contracts could offer them great value, and Ichiro’s contract is normal for the type of contract a “Franchise Player” usually commands. So, even though I don’t think the Mariners are making any bad or even unusual moves in signing these players I don’t think people questioning them are necessarily motivated by prejudice.

        • $3828999 3 years ago

          I probably over-reacted.  Sorry.  Maybe it’s not a case of “prejudice” as much as “perception.”  Their primary owner is Japanese.  You’re right about that Johjima contract, but if you recall Joh left his last year and 8 mil on the table to return to Japan.  Other than him, I don’t think there have been any signings which could be Japanese fan motivated.  There are about 20 MLB players from Japan.  The M’s have 2 of them.  Ichiro was posted back in ’00 and they were the highest bidder (a mere 13 mil as I recall).  Iwakuma was posted an won by the A’s last year but they could not reach an agreement.  Ichiro is no longer playing to the level of his contract but he did up until last year.  Maybe he will next year.  But there are a lot of guys who you could say that about.  Kuo is from Taiwan -not sure if there would be a connection there with a Japanese majority owner.  I also think Jack Z is free to hire anyone he wants within the budget parameters.

          Of course, if the M’s extend Ichiro at the All-Star break when he’s batting .265 with 5 extra base hits, well, as Edward Abbey would say, “I could be wrong.”    

  9. $3513744 3 years ago

    He should really help their struggling offense.

    • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

      Are you remembering the big homer he hit in 2007? The one and only of his career, but he flipped the bat and trotted the bases like he was Babe Ruth.

      • $3828999 3 years ago

        Hey, you get once chance for a home run trot, you better make it count.  I would.  

        • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

          The part that made everyone laugh was the bat flip. It was like he’d been watching Barry Bonds do it and was just waiting for the chance.

  10. Alex Nelson 3 years ago

    Love the positivity but this team will lose 80 games…. Yay for hardly being able to hit out of the infield.

    • $3828999 3 years ago

      Promise?  82-80 would be awesome.  Most teams would love to improve 15 games in one season, especially those that can hardly hit the ball of of the infield.  

  11. Sherrill, Oliver Perez and Kuo are all nice low risk high upside signings by Jack.  

    • Chillin_in_California 3 years ago

      Oliver Perez is a joke. If he throws two strikes in a row M’s fans should give him a standing ovation. If Kuo can stay healthy, key word if, the guy could be a beast.

  12. thegrayrace 3 years ago

    Kuo can be practically unhittable when he is healthy. Absolutely filthy stuff. Definitely one of my favorite players to watch over the last 4-5 years as a Dodger fan. Wish him well in Seattle! Hope Mariner fans get to see Kuo as his best.

  13. Alex Nelson 3 years ago

    Lol your saying 80 loss season is acceptable apples?

    • 82-80 looks much better when your team was 67-95 the previous year.

    • 80 loss season is acceptable when you are building up from a 95 loss team. It’s a process, and above .500 would be a major step forward in that process, especially with such a young team.

  14. BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

    So Kuo passed his physical… what about his mental? I’m not trying to be unkind, but his problem last year wasn’t his arm, but a world-class case of the yips.

  15. Alex Nelson 3 years ago

    I disagree and most Mariners fans would. If this team loses that many games. You can sell the team like the sonics. They should have gone.

    • $3828999 3 years ago

      The Mariners lost 101 games in 2010.   They lost 95 games in 2011. They traded their #2/3 starter (Fister) at the trade deadline last year.  This off-season they lowered their payroll (so far) and traded their other 2/3 starter for a promising catcher/DH who we hope will be great some day but has barely had a cup of coffee in the big leagues.  Other than Montero and Jaso, the M’s offense is the same as it was last year.  Kevin Millwood will likely be in the rotation.  Meanwhile, the Angles and Rangers both got better this off season.   

      And then you come along and actually argue that most M’s fans would conclude that a winning season in 2012 – a 21 and 15 game improvement over the last two years – is unacceptable?  With the talent in the minor league system, most M’s fans would jump for joy if their rebuilding process improved that much in one year.  

      Wait… “Alex Nelson”… is that you Bill Bavasi?   Ha- we caught you.   

  16. notsureifsrs 3 years ago

    not at all

  17. michael hughes 3 years ago

    I completely agree. Kuo is a low risk high upside signing on a one year deal that is probably much more about taking advantage of contending team’s desperation to fill bullpen holes around the trade deadline than making the Mariners a more competitive club. The Mariners don’t need him to preform, but if he does they can flip him for a young arm with some upside at the deadline or another prospect to help them build for the future.

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