Happy New Year to all of our readers here at MLBTR! As MLB teams begin to gear up for what should be the most active January in hot stove history, here are a few notes on the international market…
- First baseman Ji-Man Choi’s agency in Korea recently spoke to the media about their client’s current foray into free agency and revealed that he’s received offers (presumably of the minor league variety) from the Yankees, Angels, Rays, A’s, Brewers, Marlins, Cubs, Reds, Orioles, Twins, Braves, Blue Jays and White Sox (English link via Jee-ho Yoo of South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency). The 26-year-old Choi slugged a pair of homers in 18 plate appearances with the Yankees last year and posted a strong year with their Triple-A affiliate, slashing .288/.373/.538 in 87 games. In parts of five Triple-A campaigns, Choi has posted a robust .298/.390/.479 batting line.
- Right-hander Kodai Senga of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in Nippon Professional Baseball is eyeing a jump to the Major Leagues down the line, per a report from the Japan Times (link in English). Senga, 25 next month, is currently negotiating a new contract with the Hawks, according to the report, so it doesn’t seem as though the move would happen until next offseason at the earliest. Next year will be Senga’s sixth full season in NPB, meaning he’ll have the pro experience and be old enough to be exempt from the international bonus pool system. However, he’d still be subject to the newly augmented posting system agreed to by MLB, NPB and the MLBPA. At present, Senga owns a career 2.52 ERA with 10.1 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 in 418 innings. The righty moved from the bullpen to the rotation in 2016 and owns a 2.63 ERA in 47 starts over the past two seasons.
- Left-hander Hyeon-jong Yang has re-signed with the Kia Tigers of the Korea Baseball Organization, Yoo writes in a second report. Set to turn 30 in March, Yang is fresh off an MVP season with the Tigers, having thrown 193 1/3 innings of 3.44 ERA ball with 7.4 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9 in the hitter-friendly KBO. The southpaw has garnered interest from MLB teams in the past, though his KBO club did not accept the winning bid when he was initially posted for Major League teams back in the 2014-15 offseason. Yang, who has been pitching professionally since he was 19, now has enough experience to qualify as a true free agent without any restrictions but will nonetheless return to the KBO for a 12th pro season. His deal with the Tigers is worth $2.14MM, per Yoo, giving him the second-highest annual salary of any player in the KBO (behind former Mariners first baseman Dae-ho Lee).