Cardinals sign Korean relief pitcher Seung-hwan Oh
The St. Louis Cardinals have signed Korean reliever Seung-hwan Oh to a one-year deal with a club option that guarantees him about $5 million in 2016.
If Oh is able to reach all available incentives and St. Louis picks up its option, the pitcher could earn another $6 million in 2017. Due to Oh being a free agent, a posting fee was not required to have the opportunity to sign him, as is typical with players coming from Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball.
"We felt like we wanted to do something to ramp [the bullpen] up," GM John Mozeliak told MLB.com. "We were looking at a lot of different ways to do that. As we stated a few years back, we were going to spend some energy and resources trying to get a better understanding of the Asian market, specifically what was happening in Korea and Japan. And ironically, we were able to end up signing a player who is actually Korean, but played in Japan."
The Korean closer is known as the "Final Boss" during his time in NPB, is one of the best coming from the country. He has closed 498 games in just over 11 seasons split between Korea and Japan. Oh has a career 1.81 ERA, 10.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 646.1 innings before coming to MLB with the Cardinals. In 2015 with the Hanshin Tigers, Oh posted a 2.73 ERA and 8.6 K/9 as the team's closer. Oh was introduced by the Cardinals Monday afternoon.
"The stuff was obvious," manager Mike Matheny said. "The numbers are great, too. And realizing the success that he has had at the backend of a game is something that gives us a lot of flexibility as far as how we can use him here."
While his typical role has been as a closer, Oh won't be closing games for the Cardinals as Trevor Rosenthal is well established as St. Louis' closer. He will, however, add some much-needed depth to the back-end of the bullpen with setup man Kevin Siegrist and Seth Maness returning along with the signing of Jonathan Broxton.
"I've achieved everything in Korea and Japan, both countries, as a closer," Oh said through a translator. "So I wanted a new environment and was looking for motivation and a new challenge. That was why I decided to join MLB."