Left-hander Kirk McCarty is close to signing with the KBO League’s SSG Landers, according to a report from Ilgan Sports (hat tip to reporter Sung Min Kim). A deal will become official once McCarty passes a physical.
McCarty made his Major League debut in 2022, posting a 4.54 ERA over 37 2/3 innings for the Guardians. Eleven of McCarty’s 13 appearances came out of the bullpen, and he started getting some Triple-A usage as a multi-inning reliever after spending much of his pro career as a starter. Over his 425 1/3 innings in the minors, McCarty has a 4.30 ERA, 22.9% strikeout rate, and 7.26% walk rate.
These types of numbers were enough to give McCarty his first crack in the big leagues, but ultimately made him a little expendable in the pitching-deep Guardians farm system. McCarty was actually designated for assignment in July and claimed off waivers by the Orioles, but he pitched just one game with Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate before he was DFA’ed again, and re-claimed by Cleveland. Prior to the 40-man roster deadline earlier this month, the Guards designated McCarty again and released him.
McCarty was a seventh-round pick for Cleveland in the 2017 draft, and he has spent his entire career in the organization apart from that one-week sojourn in the Orioles’ system. The move to the Korea Baseball Organization presents a whole new chapter for the 27-year-old, and perhaps a chance for McCarty to more firmly re-establish himself as a starting pitcher. Due to his lack of strikeouts, McCarty doesn’t really fit most MLB teams’ preferred model for a starter or a reliever, though he does have some quality spin rates on both his fastball and curveball.