The Padres announced the signing of reliever Woo-Suk Go to a two-year contract with a mutual option covering the 2026 season. He is reportedly guaranteed $4.5MM. Go will make $1.75MM this year and $2.25MM in 2025. There’s a $500K buyout on the option, which is valued at $3MM. San Diego will also owe a $900K posting fee to the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization. The Friars still have five vacancies on the 40-man roster.
The contract also contains a number of performance bonuses. Go would receive an additional $100K if he reaches 70 appearances next season. He can unlock up to $400K in bonuses for 2025 as well: $100K apiece at 40, 45, 55 and 60 games. His 2025 salary could jump by as much as $500K if he reaches 45 games finished next season. Unless the mutual option is exercised, Go will return to free agency two years from now. While he’ll still be well shy of six years of MLB service, most major league deals for players from a foreign professional league include a clause that sends the player back to free agency once the contract expires.
Go, a 25-year-old righty, has pitched parts of seven seasons in the KBO. He has worked as a pure reliever throughout that time, operating as the LG Twins closer for the past five years. After struggling during his first two seasons as a teenager, Go has been a solid bullpen arm for a half-decade.
He has rattled off four seasons with a sub-4.00 ERA, including three campaigns allowing fewer than 2.20 earned runs per nine. Go surpassed 30 saves in each of 2019, ’21 and ’22. He has fanned more than 26% of batters faced in each of the last five years, topping the 30% mark in the last two seasons.
While Go has consistently shown the ability to miss bats, he hasn’t always been around the strike zone. He has walked more than 10% of opposing hitters in four of his seven seasons. Go issued free passes to an alarming 11.6% of batters faced last year, contributing to a 3.68 ERA that made for more of a solid than exceptional platform showing.
Public scouting reports have generally pegged Go as a likely middle reliever at the big league level. Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs writes that Go leans primarily on a mid-90s fastball and low-90s cutter while occasionally mixing in a curveball. That’s an intriguing arsenal, but the fringy control could make him a risk in higher-leverage spots.
The Twins made Go available via the posting system on December 4. That opened a 30-day period for him to sign with a major league club. (Unlike Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, whose posting windows last 45 days, there’s a 30-day opening for South Korean players). That was concluding this afternoon. If Go hadn’t signed with an MLB team by 4:00 pm CST, he’d have remained with the Twins for another season.
San Diego has been one of the sport’s most aggressive teams in targeting players making the jump from Asian professional leagues. They recently signed lefty Yuki Matsui to a five-year, $28MM pact as he came over from NPB. San Diego has added Ha-Seong Kim from the KBO and the likes of Nick Martinez and Robert Suarez from NPB in previous offseasons.
With Josh Hader, Martinez and Luis García hitting free agency, the Padres have Matsui and Suarez as their top two leverage relievers. Go joins that mix alongside righty Enyel De Los Santos, whom San Diego acquired from the Guardians in exchange for Scott Barlow this winter. Go is reportedly in the mix for the ninth inning.
Under the MLB-KBO posting agreement, the release fee is proportional to the size of the contract. For players guaranteed $25MM or less, it is calculated as 20% of the contract value. The $900K fee brings San Diego’s total outlay for Go to $5.4MM.
The deal’s $2.25MM average annual value brings San Diego’s projected luxury tax number to roughly $212MM, according to Roster Resource. That’s $25MM shy of next year’s lowest threshold. Their actual payroll sits in the $156MM range. Even in an offseason defined by budgetary limitations, adding Go shouldn’t have much of an impact on San Diego’s ability to continue bolstering the roster. The Padres still need one or two outfield acquisitions and would benefit from a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Jon Heyman of the New York Post first reported that Go and the Padres were nearing an agreement. The Post’s Joel Sherman reported the sides had agreed to a two-year, $4.5MM guarantee. Dennis Lin of The Athletic was first to report the 2026 mutual option and the specific salary breakdown. The Associated Press reported the bonuses and escalators.