Korean Pitcher Suk Min Yoon Signs Deal With Baltimore Orioles
D-Bo, Feb. 14, 2014, 1:29 p.m.
Korean pitcher Yoon Suk Min has been signed with the Baltimore Orioles, pending a physical. The three year deal will guarantee him $5.75 Million US., but Yoon may be eligiable for an additional 8 million from bonuses based on performance. He and the Orioles also agreed to include a clause that allows him to reject a demotion to the minor leagues.
If the right-hander passes the physical, he will be the second South Korean in history to move to the major leagues straight from the Korea Baseball Organization; Dodgers’ pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu was the first.
The 27-year-old is expected to compete with the likes of Bud Norris and Kevin Gausman for a place in the back end of the Orioles starting rotation. Norris and Gausman have a career earned run average of 4.36 and 5.66, respectively.
Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen are likely to fill in the slots as No. 1 through 3 starters for the Orioles.
The Orioles are signing Yoon in the hopes of addressing their long-standing issues with starting pitching. Last year, their team ERA among starting pitchers was 12th best (4.57) in the 15-team American League and only slightly better at 4.42 in 2012 when they made it to the postseason for the first time in 15 years.
Winner of the KBO’s Most Valuable Player Award in 2011, Yoon has been the ace of the KIA Tigers pitching staff throughout his career. His best pitch is a hard slider, which varies in trajectory as he can throw either straight across or with depth. His fastball once topped out at 96 miles per hour, but dropped down to high-80s last season with injuries to his right shoulder.
Health remains a concern for Yoon, but he has proven himself at international level in the past. He helped Korea win a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics with two wins and a save on a 2.35 ERA and at the 2009 World Baseball classic, he pitched a gem in the semifinal game against Venezuela, a team that consisted of major league all-stars, in Korea’s 10-2 win.