The Korea Baseball Organization’s KIA Tigers announced last night that they’ve agreed to terms with right-hander Wil Crowe on a one-year deal worth $800K guaranteed with incentives that could take the deal to $1MM (h/t to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO). Crowe spent the 2023 season with the Pirates but was outrighted off the club’s roster over the summer and released back in November.
Crowe, 29, was selected by the Nationals in the second round of the 2017 draft and made his debut with the club during the shortened 2020 campaign. The righty struggled during his cup of coffee in D.C. with a 11.88 ERA in 8 1/3 innings of work across three appearances. That would ultimately prove to be Crowe’s only appearances in a Nationals uniform, as the right-hander was shipped to Pittsburgh alongside fellow right-hander Eddy Yean on that offseason in a deal that netted the Nationals first baseman Josh Bell.
Upon joining the Pirates, Crowe was placed into the club’s rotation for the 2021 season. The assignment did not go well, as the right-hander posted a 5.48 ERA and 5.67 FIP in 116 2/3 innings of work across 26 appearances (25 starts). While he struck out a respectable 21.2% of batters faced in 2021, the right-hander struggled with his command and walked opposing hitters at a 10.9% clip. The struggles in the rotation prompted a shift to the bullpen in 2022, and Crowe found success in that role for much of the season.
Crowe posted a solid 3.12 ERA and 3.41 FIP in his first 51 appearances (66 1/3 frames) in 2022 as he strikeout and walk rates improved to 22.1% and 9.8%, respectively. Unfortunately, Crowe ran out of gas late in the year and struggled to a whopping 13.03 ERA over his final nine appearances, walking 11 and striking out just seven in 9 2/3 innings of work. The brutal finish to an otherwise solid season saw opposing hitters tee off against Crow to the tune of a .378/.500/.689 slash line as his ERA ballooned to 4.38 on the season. While he returned to the Pirates in 2023, the right-hander made just five appearances before being sidelined by shoulder discomfort and outrighted off the roster in July.
Going forward, the right-hander will get the opportunity to revitalize his career overseas. By joining the Tigers, Crowe will make more than the major league minimum while occupying one of three spots on the team the club can offer to foreign players. Outfielder Socrates Brito occupies another of those spots, while right-hander Thomas Pannone departed in favor of a minor league deal with the Cubs last month after spending the 2023 campaign with the Tigers overseas.