Free agent pitcher and former St. Louis Cardinal, Kwang-Hyun Kim is reportedly being pursued by the SSG Landers of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO).
According to ESPN KBO insider Daniel Kim, SSG Landers has officially requested a status check on KK. This is a standard procedure when a team from the Korean Baseball Organization or Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball leagues are trying to sign an MLB player.
SSG Landers was previously the SK Wyverns, and the team that Kim had played for parts of 12 seasons before signing with the St. Louis Cardinals two seasons ago.
In December of 2019, the Cardinals signed Kim to a 2-year $11M contract (combined $3M option). The SK Wyverns received a $1.6M posting fee. Just as 2020 MLB season was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Kim had considered returning home to Korea to be with his family. Teammate Adam Wainwright talked Kim into staying in the U.S. and play for the Cardinals.
During the 2020 season, Kim pitched in 8 games (7 starts), went 3-0 with an impressive 1.62 ERA. He had 24 strikeouts in 39 innings pitched while walking 12.
Prepping for the 2021 season, Kim experienced some setbacks as he battled back pain and also missed some time once the season started with left-arm inflammation. He spent time in both the Cardinals rotation and bullpen appearing in 27 games (21 starts), going 7-7 with a 3.46 ERA. In 106.2 innings pitched, Kim struck out 80 & walked 39.
In his two seasons in St. Louis, Kim had a combined 2.97 ERA, 17.2% strikeout rate, 8.4% walk rate and a 48.1% ground ball rate in 145.2 Major League innings.
There were rumors that Kwang-Hyun Kim was unhappy being moved from the rotation to the bullpen, and with the uncertainty of when the 2022 MLB season will start, he could opt to return home rather than wait the lockout out and seek a 1-2 year deal with another MLB club.
Plenty of teams would have interest in the lefty who turns 34 in July, as some projections had Kim possibly landing a 2-year deal worth $14M-$20M.
It’s unclear whether or not Kwang-Hyun Kim will take his chances on an MLB team to show interest and make an offer when the lockout ends, or if he will accept a deal from a KBO/NPB team. The KBO season begins April 2nd while the NPB in Japan opens up March 26th. This may sway him to make a decision sooner rather than later.