The LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization have signed right-handed pitcher Adam Plutko (h/t to Sung Min Kim). Plutko will receive a base salary of $500K, with a further $300K available in incentives.
Plutko was selected by Cleveland in the 11th round of the 2013 draft and quickly became a well-regarded prospect. For four straight years, from 2014 to 2017, he was considered one of the organization’s top 30 prospects by Baseball America, topping out at #14 in 2016. The reports on him as a prospect noted that his lack of elite stuff could be counteracted by his command and intelligent deployment of his arsenal.
Plutko saw sporadic big league action in his first few seasons, oscillating between the majors and minors, as well as bouncing from the rotation to the bullpen. His longest MLB stretch came in 2019, as he threw 109 1/3 innings with an ERA of 4.86 in 21 games, 20 of them starts. From 2016 to 2020, he logged 217 1/3 total innings with an ERA of 5.05. Those early prospect evaluations about his control proved correct, as evidenced by his 6.3% walk rate. However, he only managed a meager strikeout rate of 16.9%.
Prior to the 2021 season, he was acquired by the Orioles for cash considerations. Baltimore largely used him out of the bullpen, as he appeared in 38 games but just one start. He threw 56 1/3 innings, his walk rate jumping up to 10.6% and his ERA ending up at 6.71. He was designated for assignment in mid-August, clearing waivers and accepting an assignment to the minors. He appeared in 10 Triple-A games before electing free agency at the end of the season.
Plutko, 30, likely would have had to settle for a minor league deal if he stayed in North America. By going to Korea instead, he gets some certainty about his job situation for 2022, with the possibility to earn some extra money as well.