Right-hander Dan Straily dropped completely off the MLB radar following a dismal 2019 showing with the Orioles — a season that saw him surrender 52 earned runs in just 47 2/3 big league innings. Interest in the righty was tepid, and he opted to take a guaranteed $1MM deal with the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization over a nonguaranteed deal with an MLB club.
That move could wind up paying dividends for Straily, who’ll turn 32 next Tuesday. Sportsgrid’s Craig Mish reports that the veteran righty is receiving interest from MLB and KBO clubs alike, with the Angels, Giants and Reds among the Major League teams to have reached out. Straily is aiming to decide between a return to the Majors and another season (or seasons) in South Korea as soon as next week, per the report.
Straily’s return to the market this winter comes under vastly different circumstances. While he was coming off the worst season of his professional career a year ago, Straily recently wrapped an outstanding debut campaign in the KBO. In 31 starts, Straily totaled 194 frames and pitched to a 2.50 ERA and 2.97 FIP, averaging 9.5 strikeouts, 2.4 walks and 0.46 home runs per nine innings pitched. It was a remarkable turnaround for the well-traveled right-hander — one that seems to have restored some confidence in his ability to navigate a Major League lineup.
The 2019 season was such a struggle for Straily that it’s easy to forget he’s not far removed from being a perfectly serviceable rotation piece in the Majors. From 2016-18, Straily pitched in 90 games for the Reds and Marlins, working to a collective 4.03 ERA with 7.8 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and 1.49 HR/9. Fielding-independent marks were less bullish on the righty (4.83 FIP, 4.89 xFIP) due in some part to a .261 average on balls in play that was well below the league average and a 77.9 percent strand rate that was well north of average. It’s fair to say that Straily probably did benefit from some good fortune, but extreme fly-ball pitchers like him are generally able to sustain lower BABIPs; his .261 mark over that three-year term is right in line with his career .267 mark.
Also working in Straily’s favor is the simple fact that he should be affordable if he opts to return from the KBO. It’s possible he could command a multi-year pact with a modest annual salary, but many teams are likely hoping to ink him on a one-year deal, perhaps with some incentives to help boost his annual value. He’d surely be able to generate multi-year interest in the KBO or perhaps in NPB at this point, though a successful big league return is the most lucrative potential path forward.