Some updates on former big leaguers headed to play in Asia….
- The KBO’s Nexen Heroes have re-signed outfielder Jerry Sands and right-hander Jake Brigham, as per San Kang of Sports Dong-A on Twitter (hat tip to MyKBO.net’s Dan Kurtz). Left-hander Eric Jokisch has also signed with the team. According to a follow-up tweet from Kurtz, Brigham will earn $900K in salary and incentives, while Sands and Jokisch will each receive $500K from the Heroes. Sands just joined the Heroes back in August, after 11 seasons in North America that saw him appear in 156 MLB games with the White Sox, Indians, Rays, and Dodgers. Brigham will return to Nexen for the third straight season, after pitching in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2016. Jokisch was an 11th-round pick for the Cubs in 2010 who has bounced around the minors since getting his only taste of Major League action (14 1/3 IP) with Chicago in 2014. The southpaw has a 3.71 ERA, 7.1 K/9, and 2.53 K/BB rate over 1081 1/3 career innings in the minor leagues.
- The LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization have announced the re-signing of right-hander Tyler Wilson and the signing of fellow righty Casey Kelly (Twitter links via Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net and Sung Min Kim of The Athletic and River Ave Blues). The 29-year-old Wilson, whose new contract is worth $1.5MM, thrived during his first season in the hitter-friendly KBO in 2018. Across 26 starts and 170 innings, Wilson pitched to a 3.07 ERA with 7.92 K/9 and 1.89 BB/9. Before immigrating to Korea, Wilson saw action with the Orioles from 2015-17. While Wilson was only a 10th-round pick (2011), Kelly entered the pro ranks as a first-rounder of the Red Sox in 2008 and regularly ranked among the game’s 100 best prospects during the ensuing few years. Boston dealt him to San Diego in a 2011 blockbuster which also featured Adrian Gonzalez and Anthony Rizzo, but Kelly never broke out with the Padres, thanks in part to 2013 Tommy John surgery. Kelly ended up accruing a mere 40 1/3 innings with the Padres in parts of two seasons (2012 and ’15), and later combined for another 45 1/3 between the Braves (2016) and Giants (2018). Although Kelly generated decent results last year in San Francisco, where he registered a 3.04 ERA/4.22 FIP with 6.08 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 23 innings, the team outrighted him in late October. He’ll earn $1MM with his Korean club.
- The Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan have added righty Zach Neal, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Neal amassed 70 innings as an Oakland Athletic in 2016, his rookie year, but only combined for 15 2/3 with them and the Dodgers from 2017-18. The 30-year-old racked up more trades (two) than MLB innings (one) in 2018, when L.A. dealt Neal to the Reds in April and re-acquired him in a July swap that also netted the Dodgers breakout reliever Dylan Floro. In 85 2/3 MLB innings, Neal has logged a 4.94 ERA/4.84 FIP with minuscule strikeout and walk rates (3.89 K/9, .74 BB/9) and a solid groundball percentage (50.3).
- The Hanwha Eagles of the KBO have re-signed outfielder Jared Hoying for $1.4MM, Kurtz tweets. Hoying, 29, slashed .306/.373/.573 with 30 home runs in 590 plate appearances last year, his first with the Eagles. The lefty-swinger has spent most of his pro career with the Rangers, who selected him in the 10th round of the 2010 draft. Hoying collected 126 PAs with the Rangers from 2016-17 and batted .220/.262/.288 with one homer.