St. Louis Cardinals Sign Seung-hwan Oh

The Cardinals today announced the signing of 33 year old South Korean reliever Seung-hwan Oh.  The deal reportedly guarantees Oh $5 million for one year, and could be worth $11 million if Oh meets all performance incentives and the Cardinals exercise their option for a second season.

Oh has been on my radar for some time, and I definitely think of him as a major league caliber pitcher.  However, his numbers last year in Japan weren’t nearly as good as in 2014, and at age 33, he’s no spring chicken.

The Cardinals won’t be asking him to close for them unless Trevor Rosenthal gets hurt, which takes some pressure off of Oh.  Also, Oh will have an advantage in 2016 since no one in MLB has much, if any, experience against him.

I tend to think that unfamiliarity benefits the pitcher, particularly if the pitcher has good stuff, good command and knows how to pitch.  In fact, familiarity with Oh by NPB Central League hitters may have had as much to do with his reduced effectiveness in 2015 compared to 2014, his NPB rookie season, as being another year older.

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