Cardinals closer Seung-hwan Oh finished his 30th game of the year Friday, meaning his club option for 2017 has vested, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). Oh will make $2.75MM, a slight raise over his current salary of $2.5MM, next season.
Oh, 34, emigrated from the Japan Central League over the winter and has ended up as one of the biggest steals of the offseason this year. After dominating in both his homeland, Korea, and Japan, Oh has emerged as an elite-level bullpen option for playoff-contending St. Louis. The right-hander ranks fourth among relievers in innings (72 1/3), 12th in strikeouts per nine frames (12.07) and 13th in ERA (1.87). Oh has also done well limiting walks (2.24 per nine), which has contributed to his eighth-place ranking in K-BB percentage (27.9).
The brilliance of Oh has been especially timely for a Cardinals team whose previous closer, Trevor Rosenthal, has endured the worst season of his young career. Rosenthal was among the majors’ top late-game aces from 2012-15, but inflated walk and home run rates have led to a 5.13 ERA over 33 1/3 innings this year. Oh took over the ninth inning from Rosenthal at the outset of July and has since converted 17 of 19 save opportunities. Rosenthal, meanwhile, has been on the disabled list since late July with rotator cuff inflammation, but he could return as early as Monday, according to Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch.