Suk-Min Yoon Rumors

AL East Notes: Castillo, Yoon, Hoffman, Yankees

Rusney Castillo‘s strained oblique may cause him to miss a bit of Spring Training time, yet the injury isn’t considered to be particularly serious.  Still, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford posits that this setback might convince the Red Sox to give Castillo some extra minor league preparation time at the start of the season and give the center field job to Mookie Betts.  Castillo told Bradford that he would be open to being in the minors if the team felt it necessary, and his long-term contract makes him secure about his role in Boston’s plans.  “Of course there is a degree of comfort in that that I’m going be here for a while,” Castillo said.  “At the same time, if you don’t want to be in the minor leagues ramp it up and work harder to not be there.”

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette spoke to reporters (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko) about the team’s release of Suk-min Yoon earlier today and Yoon’s subsequent return to the KBO’s Kia Tigers.  Duquette confirmed that Yoon gave up the $4.15MM still owed to him under the Orioles contract in order to make the deal happen.  “The good part of this is that this didn’t work, but we were able to correct the mistake, if you will, and we have that money available to invest in other players,” Duquette said.
  • After a tumultuous year that has included Tommy John surgery, being drafted by the Blue Jays and then mentioned in trade rumors to acquire Duquette as Toronto’s new team president, Jeff Hoffman tells Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi that he is looking forward to just “putting on a uniform again” once he’s finished his rehab work.  Hoffman provides a progress report on his recovery from his surgery last May.
  • After years of struggling to find reliable left-handed relievers, the Yankees look to have solved the problem with Andrew Miller, Chasen Shreve and Justin Wilson all in the fold, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.  Ironically, this comes at a time when there are only a few standout left-handed hitters amongst the Yankees’ AL East rivals, Sherman notes.

Orioles Release Suk-min Yoon

6:07pm: The Orioles will save roughly $4.3MM in salary and expenses by releasing Yoon, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports (Twitter link).  Yoon’s camp first sought a release last month and gave up his remaining MLB salary to obtain it, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports (Twitter links).

5:22pm: The Orioles have released right-hander Suk-min Yoon, according to the team’s public relations department (via Twitter).  The move allows Yoon to sign a contract with the Kia Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization.  Yoon will earn $8.2MM over four years with the Tigers according to a Yonhap News report, which is the largest contract even given to a free agent by a KBO team.

News broke earlier today that Yoon and the Orioles were working towards ending their relationship after Yoon didn’t report to the team’s minor league Spring Training camp over the weekend.  Yoon was reportedly disappointed over not receiving an invitation to the Major League camp, which may have been the final straw between the two sides.

Yoon signed a three-year, $5.575MM deal with the Orioles in February 2014 that could’ve been worth as much as $13.075 if he’d reached all of his contract incentives.  Instead, Yoon spent the entire 2014 season at Triple-A Norfolk, posting a 5.74 ERA, 2.58 K/BB rate and 6.3 K/9 over 95 2/3 innings (18 of Yoon’s 23 appearances were starts).  He was outrighted off Baltimore’s 40-man roster last August.

Financial details of the transactions weren’t released, but the Orioles still owe Yoon $4.15MM through the end of the 2016 season.  It’s possible Yoon and agent Scott Boras could’ve waived the remaining salary to facilitate a release, or the Kia Tigers could’ve sent Baltimore some money, though this is just speculation on my part.

Yoon spent his first nine professional seasons with the Kia Tigers, posting a few outstanding seasons as a starter but also seeing significant time in the bullpen.  MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes profiled Yoon in October 2013, noting that there was some question about whether or not the righty would fit into North American baseball as a starter or a reliever.


Orioles, Suk-min Yoon Finalizing Contract Settlement

11:37am: Baltimore is attempting to finalize a deal with Yoon that would release him from his MLB contract, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports on Twitter. The deal would allow Yoon to resume his career in Korea.

9:05am: The Orioles appear to be on the way to severing their relationship with Korean hurler Suk-min Yoon, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports (Twitter links). Reports had emerged from South Korean media indicating that Yoon was on his way back, following recent indications of strains between player and team.

Yoon had been scheduled to report to minor league camp on Saturday, but it appears he will instead head to Korea. The precise nature of the transaction that could or will take place remains unclear, though it would seem reasonable to expect some kind of buyout negotiation. Baltimore inked the Scott Boras client to a three-year, $5.575MM deal last year, leaving salary obligations among the matters to be addressed.

Yoon never got going last year, ultimately ending his campaign with a 5.74 ERA in 95 2/3 Triple-A innings and 6.3 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9. He dealt with shoulder issues along the way and was ultimately outrighted in mid-season. The O’s decided against inviting him to big league camp this spring, which seemingly precipitated today’s developments.



Orioles Outright Suk-Min Yoon, Cord Phelps

The Orioles announce that they’ve outrighted pitcher Suk-min Yoon and infielder Cord Phelps. The moves open two spots on the Orioles’ 40-man roster.

Baltimore signed Yoon to a three-year deal before the season. Their total financial commitment was minimal, at $5.575MM guaranteed, but they were surely still hoping for better results than they’ve gotten so far. Yoon has pitched 90 2/3 innings for Triple-A Norfolk, posting a 5.56 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. He has not yet pitched in the big leagues. The Orioles owe him $1.75MM in 2015 and $2.4MM in 2016.

Yoon was a standout in Korea, but was widely regarded as having less upside than, for example, Hyun-jin Ryu, who has had success with the Dodgers. Yoon was coming off a 2013 shoulder injury and did not have dominating stuff.

The O’s designated Phelps for assignment to make room for Miguel Gonzalez earlier this week. The former Indians prospect hit .258/.358/.380 in 395 plate appearances for Norfolk this season.


Orioles Sign Suk-Min Yoon

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.


AL Notes: Dempster, BoSox Payroll, Drew, O’s, Mulder

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.

Quick Hits: Sandoval, Braves, Dodgers, O’s, Tigers

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.

Suk-Min Yoon Rumors: Wednesday

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.

East Notes: Nationals, Madson, Mets, Orioles, Santana, Yoon, Yankees

 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."

Orioles Unlikely To Sign Burnett; Phillies Still In Running

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.