Baltimore Orioles Agree to Contract Terms with Suk-min Yoon

The Orioles have reached agreement on the terms of a contract with Korean ace Suk-min Yoon.  As I had thought was likely, the terms of the deal are similar to those which the Milwaukee Brewers and Norichika Aoki agreed to a few years back.  The agreement promises Yoon a guaranteed $5.575 million over three seasons with escalator clauses and performance bonuses that could raise the value of the contract to $13.075 million.  Yoon becomes a free agent at the end of the three seasons, and the proposed contract contains some kind of protection against Yoon being sent to the minors.

Some sources say that the Orioles originally offered Yoon a two-year deal for $10 million, which Yoon rejected because he wanted a third season.  If the $10 million was guaranteed, it seems unlikely that Yoon would reject a shorter-term contract for more money in favor of a longer-term contract for less money.  However, the prior offer may not have been entirely guaranteed, may not have provided that Yoon would become a free agent upon its expiration and may not have included the language limiting Yoon’s ability to be sent to the minor leagues.

Frankly, I don’t see the value of preventing a player from being sent to the minor leagues if he is guaranteed major league money.  If a foreign player initially struggles in the major leagues, the minor leagues is the place to work things out away from the spotlight and where the player can be provided regular work no matter how poorly he performs.  If he’s being paid major league money, the team has a strong incentive to promote him back to the Show as soon as he looks to have righted the ship.

The Yoon-Orioles contract is hardly a done deal, as Yoon still needs to pass a physical.  Given that Yoon had shoulder problems in 2013 and the fact that the Orioles have already voided deals with Grant Balfour and Tyler Colvin this off-season after their physicals raised issues which concerned the Orioles (but apparently not other clubs), it remains to be seen whether the contract will indeed be finalized.

In tangentially related news, the Goyang Wonders, an independent team in KBO’s Futures League (the Futures League is KBO’s minor league; all the teams except Goyang are the minor league teams for the teams of KBO’s major league, the Championship League), signed former major leaguer and NPBer Jonathan Albaladejo. Albaladejo is an enormous (6’5″, 270 lbs) right-handed reliever who pitched briefly in the majors for the Nationals, Yankees and Diamondbacks between 2007 and 2012.

Albaladejo also pitched extremely well for NPB’s Yomiuri Giants in 2011 (2.45 ERA in 46 relief appearances), but for some reason did not return to Yomiuri in 2012.  In 2012 and 2013, he pitched in the AAA Pacific Coast League and looked like a classic 4-A player, better than most at the AAA level but a hair below major league caliber.

Albaladejo makes the second American foreign player signed by a KBO Futures League team this off-season.  The KT Wiz signed Mike Loree a month ago.  However, the Wiz are an expansion team that will begin play in the Championship League in 2015, and may hope to get a jump by developing Loree for a year in the Futures League.

It’s a bit surprising that a minor league team, independent or ortherwise would sign a relatively expensive player like Albaladejo (my best guess is that he will cost $150,000 to $200,000 in salary for 2014), but I suspect the hope for both the Goyang Wonders and Albaladejo is that he dominates the Futures League early in the 2014 season, and is then sold for a profit to one of the KBO Championship League teams, when one or more of the 18 foreign pitchers currently holding all the available roster spots gets hurt or is ineffective.

Explore posts in the same categories: Arizona Diamond Backs, Baltimore Orioles, Baseball Abroad, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Washington Nationals

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