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Suk-Min Yoon Rumors
The Orioles on Monday officially announced that they have signed South Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon to a three-year contract. Yoon's deal will reportedly guarantee him $5.575MM and also contains incentives and escalator provisions could significantly increase its total value to $13.075MM over that span. Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette offered the following statement on the signing:
"We are excited to bring Suk-min Yoon to the organization. He has been a top pitcher in the Korea Baseball Organization and has pitched successfully in international competition. We look forward to his contributions to the Orioles."
The contract features a slightly backloaded and rather complicated structure. Yoon will receive a $675K signing bonus, then earn $750K for the coming season, $1.75MM in 2015, and $2.4MM in 2016. On top of that, Yoon can earn $1.25MM in incentives in 2014 based upon games started. Reaching that milestone would also bump his 2015 base by $1.25MM. The same mechanism allows Yoon to earn $1.25MM in incentives for 2015 and add as much as $2.5MM to his 2016 base salary (and, once more, earn a $1.25MM incentive payday in that final year of the deal).
Notably, Yoon also receives other protection in the contract. He will be eligible to qualify for free agency after the deal is up, and the deal includes a mechanism to protect him from a minor league demotion.
Yoon is said to be "in good shape to pass" the physical, but the club is reportedly remaining quiet about the deal until he does. Obviously, Baltimore is hopeful of avoiding any bad press that might come from issues relating to the medical exam, given its heavily-scrutinized decisions to shelve deals with Grant Balfour and Tyler Colvin due to problems with their physicals.
As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explained in his detailed profile of Yoon before the off-season, the Korean hurler was widely regarded as the KBO's second-best pitcher after Hyun-jin Ryu, who went on to success with the Dodgers last year. But that does not necessarily mean he approaches Ryu's upside, as the stark differences in their contracts would suggest. (Ryu was promised $36MM, after Los Angeles bid over $25MM for negotiating rights. Unlike Ryu, Yoon was a free agent and did not require a posting or release fee.)
That is not to say that Yoon lacks appeal, of course. He had two outstanding seasons in the KBO as a starter, winning the league's MVP award in 2011. Though he is said not to have dominant stuff, Yoon is by all accounts a solid arm with the talent to add value in the bigs. The major issue with Yoon, Dierkes noted, was a shoulder injury that hampered his 2013 campaign. He battled through the injury, but split time between a starting and relief role and failed to match his prior production.
Though Dierkes put Yoon's value at two years and $10MM, he noted that prediction was based on very limited information. A recent report indicated that Yoon was seeing wide interest, but that apparently did not allow him to generate much of a bidding war.
From the Orioles' perspective, Yoon is set to receive the first MLB deal given by the club to a starter this off-season. (Of course, the team added Bud Norris via trade at last year's deadline, a fact which is often overlooked.) Indeed, Yoon would represent the largest free agent splash thus far for the O's, beating the two-year, $4.5MM guarantee made to reliever Ryan Webb.
Given that his contract includes incentives based upon games started, it would seem he stands at least some chance to crack the rotation. The club's rotation figures to include Norris, Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, and Miguel Gonzalez. Yoon could potentially battle with a range of other options — including Kevin Gausman, Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, T.J. McFarland, and Alfredo Aceves — for the final slot.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported the signing. MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli (via Twitter) first reported its approximate value, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter) first reported that it included incentive provisions. Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com reported the contract breakdown, details, and escalators. Special thanks to Cotillo for explaining the complicated structure of the incentive and escalator provisions.
Earlier today, Ryan Dempster announced he will not pitch in 2014 forfeiting the $13.25MM he was due in the final year of his pact with the Red Sox. Boston, however, does not intend to pursue Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, or other free agent starting pitching, writes WEEI.com's Alex Speier. The Red Sox expect to slot Felix Doubront into the starting rotation and Brandon Workman into the swingman role with their stable of pitching prospects providing depth, according to Speier. Elsewhere in the American League:
- Speier notes in the same article the Red Sox have newfound financial flexibility with Dempster's salary now off the books. Boston projects to have a 2014 payroll of $176MM (including $9MM allocated for in-season trades and roster additions), a $13MM cushion against the luxury tax. The Red Sox could re-sign Stephen Drew, but Speier wonders whether common ground can be found.
- GM Ben Cherington passed on the opportunity to discuss the Red Sox's unexpected financial windfall saying the focus should be on Dempster, reports the Boston Globe's Pete Abraham.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets the Yankees are not considering any additional free agent acquisitions, which would rule them out on Drew.
- Jimmy Paredes, claimed on waivers yesterday by the Orioles, is a prime candidate to lose his 40-man roster spot once the team makes its signing of Suk-Min Yoon official, according to MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. Yoon has passed his physical, per multiple reports.
- Mark Mulder, who saw his comeback bid with the Angels end when he ruptured his left Achilles tendon, told reporters, including Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, he has yet to decide whether he will attempt another return in 2015. "I'd love to say yes, but I don't know. I have to wait and see what the doctors say — see what the process is of how healthy I can get it, how good it feels." Mulder undergoes surgery Monday and the rehab could last up to eight months.
Perhaps notable among this year's wave of stories on early-spring physiques, a trimmer Pablo Sandoval has reported to Giants Spring Training, writes Chris Haft of MLB.com. Sandoval is aware that many will credit the weight loss to his impending free agency, but says he was motivated by his teammates and the desire to win a championship. Haft notes that Giants GM Brian Sabean indicated during the Winter Meetings this year that he'd consider a multiyear deal for Sandoval if he reported to camp in shape. More late-night links from around the majors:
- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez says he plans to offer encouragement to Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton, who both struggled mightily in 2013 (via MLB.com's Mark Bowman). "I'm going into the season, right now, thinking Danny is going to play second base," Gonzalez said.
- New Dodgers infielder Alexander Guerrero's transition from shortstop to second base "has not come easily," Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. Guerrero's struggles at the position reportedly motivated the Dodgers' signings of Chone Figgins and Justin Turner.
- The Orioles will announce their deal with Suk-Min Yoon on Sunday, and both sides expect a press conference on Monday, Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com writes.
- A deal between the Tigers and free agent reliever Ryan Madson is unlikely, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck. Detroit had a scout in attendance at Madson's recent workout, but the team's interest is likely "limited to due diligence." While GM Dave Dombrowski has hinted at the possibility of adding another reliever, the Tigers prefer a minor league deal, Beck says.
Speculation ran amok last night after Korean right-hander Suk-Min Yoon tweeted a picture of himself wearing an Orioles cap, but last we heard on Tuesday evening was that no deal was in place yet. Yoon has been oft-connected to the Orioles, however (among other teams). We'll keep track of today's developments pertaining to Yoon right here…
- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun writes that the Orioles are negotiating with Yoon, but his source tells him that no deal has been reached, not even pending a physical.
- One agent asked Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, "Who would ever admit they signed with Baltimore without a physical clearance in advance?" Rosenthal continues, stating that some feel the Orioles' stinginess on physical exams this offseason — Grant Balfour and Tyler Colvin have both failed physicals after agreeing with Baltimore — is due to the fact that the team was burned by Tsuyoshi Wada's two-year, $8.15MM contract (All Twitter links). The Japanese lefty signed prior to the 2012 season but never threw a pitch for the O's due to Tommy John surgery.
Here are some notes from the game's eastern divisions:
- After watching rehabbing reliever Ryan Madson throw on Friday, the Nationals came away impressed, reports James Wagner of the Washington Post. Reportedly throwing in front of representatives from 15 clubs, Madson is said to have touched 93 mph during the session.
- Nationals rotation candidate Taylor Jordan suffered a broken ankle over the off-season, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Jordan seems to be ready to go, though manager Matt Williams says the club will keep a close eye on him to ensure that ankle issues do not impact his motion and create bigger problems.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson spoke again about the club's shortstop situation, Marc Carig of Newsday reports. He tempered expectations of a Stephen Drew signing, saying that it remained possible but only "under the right circumstances." Alderson also said that the team was looking to the trade market, but a rival executive tells Carig that New York would probably need to give up young pitching to add anything worthwhile up the middle.
- The Orioles have stepped up their interest in Ervin Santana since losing out on Bronson Arroyo, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Though he is not sure how heavily the club will pursue the free agent starter, Connolly says that Baltimore is definitely still in the mix.
- Speculation arose that South Korean hurler Suk-min Yoon may have signed with the Orioles after a picture was apparently sent from his Twitter account purportedly showing him donning an O's cap. But two high-ranking team officials tell MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko that they have heard nothing about an agreement with Yoon (Twitter link). Likewise, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter) that no agreement has been reached. Baltimore has certainly been linked to the 27-year-old, but as of now it is just one of five clubs in the mix, according to Rosenthal.
- Filling in for the suspended Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees expect to use Kelly Johnson as the left-handed side of a platoon at third, reports Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger. GM Brian Cashman said that the team would pick from among "a cast of characters that are going to compete for that spot on the right side."
MONDAY, 10:17pm: Burnett is in discussions with multiple teams, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
9:41pm: The Phillies are "very much still in the running" to land Burnett, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Though there is no indication that the sides are nearing a deal, says Zolecki, the likelihood has increased since Friday.
FRIDAY: The market for A.J. Burnett could be taking further shape, as Friday reports have indicated that a pair of previously listed suitors aren't likely landing spots. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes that the Phillies aren't likely to add Burnett at this point in the offseason, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that things "don't look good" for the Orioles either.
Salisbury spoke with Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and was told the following:
"I don’t suspect we’ll be doing anything. I think we’ve got what we’ve got. I suspect we’ll go into the season with what we’ve got – or at least spring training with what we’ve got. We’re always looking, always trolling. I know there are guys out there, but I don’t suspect us having anything major coming through."
In his tweet, Kubatko does note that while the Burnett-to-Baltimore scenario isn't completely dead, the sense is that his prerference is to pitch in the National League rather than return to the American League. Kubatko adds that the Orioles are still in the mix on Bronson Arroyo, Ubaldo Jimenez and Suk-Min Yoon, however.
Recent reports stated that the D-Backs would have interest in Burnett, but they don't feel he'd want to pitch for a West Coast club. It sounds then, like Burnett's preference is to pitch for a Senior Circuit club on or near the East coast (he is a Maryland resident), which would bode well for the Pirates, especially if the Phillies are truly out of the mix. The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore speculated earlier in the week that the Nationals could make a surprise push for Burnett, and I'd agree that the pairing would make sense, though there's been nothing concrete to connect the two sides to this point.
One prominent American League player told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that he believes players put quite a bit of pressure on Alex Rodriguez to withdraw his lawsuit against the union. “It didn’t go over too well and Alex heard about it a lot. Nobody ever understood it. He did the right thing by dropping it,” said the players. Someone who knows A-Rod well believes that he's planning on resting up his hip for the year and coming back strong. Cafardo doesn't doubt that the third baseman can make a comeback, but he wonders if the Yankees might just eat the remainder of his contract and cut him loose. Here's more from today's column..
- There is mutual interest between the Pirates and Kendrys Morales, but the Bucs may prefer to find their first baseman via trade. Cafardo cites the Mets’ Ike Davis, the Blue Jays' Adam Lind, and the Rangers' Mitch Moreland among the possibilities.
- There's lots of competition for Suk-Min Yoon out there and while the Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays, and Diamondbacks are among the interested clubs, one National League GM says that the pitcher could go to anyone.
- The Mariners' interest in Nelson Cruz has not waned but the number of years remains the sticking point in talks.
- The Mets remain the best bet to land Stephen Drew, but he still receives text messages from Red Sox teammates hoping that he'll return.
- The Dodgers still have an outfield surplus with Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, and Yasiel Puig in tow, but they don't appear to be in any hurry to break it up.
It's been a busy day for Orioles news, as so far we've heard that the O's are one of three finalists for Bronson Arroyo, Baltimore signed Jack Cust and Evan Meek to minor league contracts, Grantland's Jonah Keri explored the team's recent spending history and its MASN TV contract, and MLBTR's Steve Adams wrapped up even a few more O's items as part of an East Notes post. Heck, why stop now? Here are more Orioles tidbits plus more news from around the AL East…
- Freddie Freeman's eight-year, $135MM extension with the Braves could very well change the parameters for the Orioles' possible extension with Chris Davis, observes MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. "If Davis comes close to duplicating his 2013 season, [agent Scott] Boras will view Freeman's salary as chump change," Kubatko writes. The Braves' deal with Freeman, 24, covered his three remaining arbitration-eligible years and his first five free agent years, while the 28-year-old Davis has just one year of arbitration eligibility remaining before hitting free agency following the 2015 season.
- Also from Kubatko, he questions if the Orioles would make a multiyear offer to Suk-min Yoon given his shoulder history and how the O's were recently burned by Tsuyoshi Wada's injury history. With Yoon looking for a two-year commitment and the Rangers, Giants, Cubs and Twins all showing, a one-year offer might not be enough to get it done for the Orioles.
- The Rays have been talking to the Nationals about a Jose Lobaton trade for at least a month, MLB.com's Bill Ladson reports, though the two sides can't settle on what the Rays would get back in return. Though the Nats are one of several teams interested in Lobaton, Tampa Bay is in no hurry to deal the catcher and could wait until Spring Training begins to move him.
- The Yankees' struggles to draft and develop quality minor league talent in recent years is chronicled by ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand.
- Over at Roto Authority, MLBTR's fantasy baseball-focused sister site, I looked at which of the Orioles' Manny Machado or the Blue Jays' Brett Lawrie is the better bet for fantasy success in 2014.
Joey Votto is well known not only for his massive, ten-year contract, but also for being one of the game's most dedicated and thoughtful hitters. He is also known as a reserved presence, making his lengthy interview with Lance McAlister of Cincinnati's 700 WLW well worth a listen (hat tip to the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay.) Among other things, Votto dismissed the concept of lineup protection, but says that he did see noticeably better pitches when speedster Billy Hamilton got on base in front of him last year. His favorite stat? wRC+. Touching on roster construction and player evaluation, Votto said that he values all aspects of the game, and finds it is telling that both of last year's World Series contestants featured well-rounded rosters of well-rounded players. Here's more from the NL Central:
- After missing all of 2013 due to arm injuries, Pirates prospect Rinku Singh tells MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom that he is working on his arm strength and still plans to reach the Major Leagues. Singh, 25, famously won a pitching reality show in India in 2008 and subsequently signed a minor league deal with the Bucs. The story of Singh (and Dinesh Patel, the reality show runner-up) will be told in the upcoming film Million Dollar Arm.
- The Cardinals lost a number of notable relief arms and could be lacking some depth, Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. Gordon lists several minor leaguers who could emerge in Spring Training and be in the bullpen on Opening Day.
- The Cubs are unlikely to participate in a "bidding war" for Korean hurler Suk-min Yoon, reports Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Though Chicago saw Yoon pitch along with multiple other teams, it sounds as if the club's interest is heavily conditioned on price.
- The Brewers are "kicking tires" on several free agent relievers, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Twitter links). Milwaukee is waiting for the asking prices to come down. Two names that Haudricourt wouldn't be surprised to see added are ex-Brewer Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Marmol, who is a good friend of Aramis Ramirez.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
TUESDAY, 5:38pm: The Cubs joined the Rangers in watching Yoon throw 30 pitches today, reports T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com (via Twitter). He will hold similar, short bullpen sessions for other clubs in the next few days, tweets Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
Yoon's health remains the major issue for clubs considering Yoon's request for multiple years, Sullivan adds. The South Korean is not close to signing, says Sullivan, contrary to statements made yesterday by agent Scott Boras.
MONDAY, 11:30pm: The Rangers will watch Yoon throw a bullpen session on Tuesday in Arizona, reports Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (hat tip to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO, via Twitter).
7:30pm: The Orioles are one of several clubs to have made an offer to Yoon, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
(In case you missed the intervening update, Yoon's agent, Scott Boras, said that six or seven teams were still interested in the South Korean.)
11:41am: As many as five teams are still showing interest in Korean right-hander Suk-Min Yoon, according to Sang-Soo Kwon of Korean news outlet JoongAng Daily (hat tip: MyKBO.net's Dan Kurtz). According to Kwon, the Orioles are the front-runners to sign Yoon at this point, but the Rangers, Cubs, Twins and Giants have interest as well. The Orioles and Giants reportedly attended a workout held by Yoon at the UC-Irvine campus over the weekend.
The Rangers' interest is a new wrinkle in the Yoon saga, but Kwon cites an official from the Boras Coporation (which represents Yoon) in saying that Texas has scouted Yoon for more than two years. Interest on the Rangers' side picked up after Derek Holland's injury, the official said.
Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports (on Twitter) that Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette wouldn't confirm the team's interest in Yoon when asked on Saturday, but he also didn't deny any of the reports. The Orioles have added a pair of notable Asian players in recent years, inking Tsuyoshi Wada and Wei-Yin Chen to multi-year deals. Kwon also points out Duquette's history of Korean additions from his days as GM of the Red Sox; Boston inked lefty Sang-Hoon Lee, right-hander Sun-woo Kim, right-hander Seung-Joon Song, and infielder Tae-in Chae.
Yoon, 27, was considered Korea's second-best starting pitcher behind Hyun-jin Ryu following the 2012 season. A shoulder injury in 2013 prompted a move the the closer's role with the Kia TIgers last season, but from 2011-12 Yoon posted a 2.77 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 325 1/3 innings as a starter. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted in Yoon's free agent profile, his fastball sits in the 91 to 93 mph range, and he won the KBO's MVP Award in 2011 for his outstanding work in the Kia Tigers' rotation.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.