1:40pm: The Cardinals have officially signed star Korean reliever Seung-hwan Oh to a one-year deal with a club option that reportedly guarantees him about $5MM. Oh, who is represented by Chip Sloan of Pryor Cashman LLP, did not require a posting fee to sign because he was a free agent.
Known by the nicknames “Stone Buddha” and “Final Boss,” Oh is perhaps the most celebrated Korean closer with 498 games finished over an 11-season career split between Korea and Japan. The right-hander has a career 1.81 ERA, 10.7 K/9, and 2.1 BB/9 over 646 1/3 innings between the two countries. In 2013, after nine seasons in the hitter-friendly KBO, Oh made the transition to the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and continued his success, including a 2015 campaign that saw him post a 2.73 ERA, 8.6 K/9, and 2.1 BB/9. A two-year old scouting report credits him with a mid-90s fastball, hard slider, and slow curve. MLBTR’s Steve Adams spoke to a pair of scouts earlier this offseason that praised Oh’s fastball and labeled his slider as at least an average offering. As Han Lee of Global Sporting Integration tweets, Oh would become the fourth Korean reliever to jump from NPB to the Majors, joining predecessors Sang-Hoon Lee, Dae-Sung Koo and Chang-Yong Lim. (None of the three pitched more than a season in MLB, though none came with Oh’s track record in Asia, either.)
Oh won’t be the “final boss” of the St. Louis bullpen, given Trevor Rosenthal’s firm hold on the closer’s job, though he will add some much-needed depth to a back-end bullpen trio that saw a lot of action in 2015; setup man Kevin Siegrist appeared in a league-high 81 games, with Seth Maness (76 games) and Rosenthal (68) also seeing a lot of work. The additions of Oh (if completed) and the re-signed Jonathan Broxton will give manager Mike Matheny more flexibility in deciding his late-game options.
Daniel Kim of KBSn first reported that the sides were close to agreement (via Twitter). Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the deal was nearing finalization, pending physical, and reported the contract value.