Right-hander Daniel Mengden has signed with the Kia Tigers of the Korea Baseball Organization, the team announced (hat tip to MyKBO.net’s Dan Kurtz). The one-year contract will pay Mengden $425K in salary, a $300K signing bonus, and up to $275K in incentives.
The 27-year-old elected to become a free agent after he was outrighted off the Athletics’ 40-man roster following the season. Mengden only threw 12 1/3 innings in 2020 after recovering from elbow surgery in February, two offseason surgeries to address an intestinal problem, and then a positive COVID-19 diagnosis in early September.
Originally a fourth-round pick for the Astros in the 2014 draft, Mengden was dealt to the A’s as part of the Scott Kazmir trade in July 2015 and he has gone on to spend his entire MLB career in an Oakland uniform. After a pretty rough 2016 rookie season, Mengden has a 4.06 ERA, 2.22 K/BB rate, and 6.0 K/9 over 230 2/3 innings for the A’s since the start of the 2017 campaign, starting 34 of 46 games. Neither a big strikeout pitcher or a grounder specialist, Mengden relies on a lot of soft contact, which has led to decent bottom-line results even if advanced metrics aren’t fond of his work.
Mengden becomes the latest experienced big leaguer to head to the KBO League for a better guarantee of both money and playing time, rather than test a very uncertain North American market. He’ll join former A’s teammate Aaron Brooks on the Tigers roster, as Brooks recently re-signed for a second season with the Gwangju-based team.