Righty Alexi Ogando will head to Korea for the 2017 season, per an announcement from the Korea Baseball Organization’s Hanwha Eagles (in Korean; h/t Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net, on Twitter). He’ll receive $1.8MM in the deal.
Ogando, 33, has been a fairly productive relief pitcher for most of his seven-year MLB career, and showed well during two stints in the Rangers rotation. But he dealt with arm issues late in his tenure with Texas, and hasn’t quite been the same since.
While the results have been fine — Ogando has a sub-4.00 ERA in each of the last two years — the rest of the picture isn’t as rosy. With the Red Sox in 2015, Ogando was inordinately home-run prone, coughing up 1.65 dingers per nine. Though he both reduced the dingers and worked in the zone much more frequently last year, with the Braves, Ogando ended up with a sky-high 6.5 BB/9 walk rate. ERA estimators viewed him as a 4+ to 5+ earned run per nine pitcher over those years.
Ultimately, Ogando was cut loose by the Braves after 32 innings in 2016, after a particularly rough stretch, despite the fact that the team had invested $2MM in him. He landed with the Diamondbacks on a minor-league deal, but threw poorly at Triple-A and opted out of his deal before he had a chance to make it back to the majors.
That said, it’s not hard to see the appear for Hanwha. Gone are the days when Ogando sat in the 96 mph range with his fastball, though he still works at a robust 94. And his swinging-strike rate has still been there, ranging from 11.2% in 2015 to 9.4% last year. It’s certainly at least theoretically possible that he could return to a starting role, though that’s pure speculation.