Archive for the ‘Texas Rangers’ category

Steve Dalkowski Passes

April 25, 2020

News on mlbtraderumors.com is that Steve Dalkowski, aged 80, died today of the coronavirus.  Dalkowski is one of the most famous players in baseball history who never reached who never reached the majors.

Dalkowski was a smallish lefthander (5’11”, 175 lbs) who threw incredibly hard but had no idea where it was going.  Many players who played against him said he threw harder than anyone they’d ever faced.

In his first season in a 1957 Class D (rookie) league, he struck 121 batters in 62 innings pitched but also walked an incredible 129.  He was certainly the scariest pitcher many players ever faced because he just might kill you.

Three years later, he both struck out and walked 262 in 170 IP in what was then the Class C California League (an full season A league in today’s game).  He walked 196 and struck out 150 in 103 IP a step up the minor league ladder in 1961.

Dalkowski had his best minor league season in 1962 at age 23 for the Eastern League’s Elmira Pioneers, which played at what we’d call AA level today.  He only went 7-10 but had a 3.04 ERA and, while striking out 192 batters in 160 IP, he walked a modest for him 117 batters.

Earl Weaver, before his great Orioles days, was Dalkowski’s manager in 1962.  He told Dalkowski, a starter, to throw just the fastball and slider and to throw every pitch at the middle of the plate.  Even Weaver said Dalkowski threw harder than Nolan Ryan, and he saw plenty of both.

A 2013 article says, “On a $5 bet, Dalkowski threw a baseball through a wooden fence. On a $10 bet, he threw a ball from the center-field fence over the 40-foot high backstop screen behind home plate.”

The 2013 article says that “Nuke” LaLoosh from Bull Durham was based on Dalkowski, and Kevin Cosner’s “Crash” Davis was based on Dalkowski’s roommate and former SF Giants and  manager Joe Altobelli.  “Alto once quipped, ‘I didn’t room with Dalkowski, I roomed with his suitcase!'” which is an old, old baseball line.

However, Dalkowski’s control really hadn’t improved, it’s likely he blew out his elbow tendon in 1963, and he was a hard drinker, so he was out of organized baseball by the end of the 1965 season at age 26.  Aside from being small, Dalkowski had a compact delivery, but it didn’t improve his ability to throw strikes or diminish from his fastball speed, at least until after the injury when his fastball dropped to 90 mph.

In separate games in his career, Dalkowski struck out 21 and walked 21.  He is said to have thrown a pitch that tore of a batter’s ear, but he didn’t actually hit that many batters, a season high of nine in 170 IP in 1960.  Hitters were “loose” when they got into the box against “White Lightning,” meaning they were every bit ready to get out of the way.

Dalkowski had a hard life after baseball.  He still drank hard, which took his mind prematurely.  It says something about modern medicine that he lived long enough to be felled by the coronavirus.  He was 80 and had lived in a care home in New Britain, Connecticut for many years.


 

The 2020 Giants Won’t Be Good, But They’ll Be Familiar

February 8, 2020

The SF Giants signed Hunter Pence for a reported $3M plus incentives, and they just brought back Pablo about a week ago.  We’ll see if Hunter has one more year in him, and while I’m not too excited about the Panda, I like the fact that the Gints signed all-around infielder Wilmer Flores for his age 28 and 29 seasons at a total of $6M.

Signing Flores is a good move, but it’s not a great move.  It’s more of a signing I’d expect to see from the Royals or the Marlins.  Makes the Giants just good enough not to lose 100, maybe.

I’m actually hoping the Dodgers complete the Mookie Betts, David Price deal.  Even without them, the 2020 and 2021 Giants aren’t likely to compete with the Dodgers the next two years.  In 2022, David Price will be two years older, and Mookie Betts will be gone or an extremely pricey part of the Dodgers’ salary cap considerations.  It’s a win now, pay later strategy, and the Giants won’t be any good until later.

Still More Asian Comings and Goings

December 13, 2019

It’s been an exciting week for International pro baseball, at least for baseball nerds like me.  We’re seeing more movement between the World’s major leagues than ever and for more money than ever.

The Milwaukee Brewers signed KBO ace Josh Lindblom for three years and $9.125 million guarantee.  It’s a big commitment by the standards of former MLB washouts returning to MLB after honing their craft in Asia, but it makes a certain amount of sense.  Even if Lindblom can’t really cut it as a major league starter, the odds are good he’d be an effective major league reliever.  At roughly $3M a season, that’s currently a successful middle reliever/set-up man salary.

NPB’s Orix Buffaloes signed still major league starter Adam Jones to a two-year $8M guarantee with the possibility that the contract could be worth $15.5 million to Jones if the Buffaloes exercise a third season option and Jones earns all performance incentives.

Jones has obviously slipped a bit over the last few seasons, but the decline has been gradual and he’s still able to stay healthy and play regularly.  In Japan’s smaller ballparks against generally weaker pitchers, he could still be a big power threat there.

It’s also exciting to see a small revenue club like Orix take this big a risk on a foreign player.  It’s a little like seeing the KC Royals shell out the bucks for one of the off-season’s five best free agents.

Jim Allen recently had a good post comparing Jones to some of the other former major league stars who have gone over to play in Japan after hitting at least 100 major league home runs.  It’s a reminder of just how many and for how long former major league stars have gone to NPB to wind down their careers and haul in a few more lucrative paydays.

Reliever Joely Rodriguez returns to MLB with a two-year $5.5M deal from the Texas Rangers.  It’s almost certain that Pierce Johnson will also be returning to MLB in 2020 after a very successful season for the Hanshin Tigers.  As more players turn success in Asia into big contracts to return to the States, better players will sign to play in the KBO and NPB.

Another KBO ace Angel Sanchez signed a mult-year deal (probably 2 seasons) with the Yomiuri Giants.  It’s being reported that Sanchez turned down bigger offers from MLB clubs to sign with Yomiuri, but I kind of doubt it.  What player from the Americas would turn down more money to play in the U.S. in order to play in Japan?

That said, it’s at least possible that Sanchez figures he’s got a better chance of long term success in NPB, particularly if Yomiuri is guaranteeing at least two years.  One of the toughest things for foreign players in the Asian majors is that they have to be immediately successful or they get shipped out fast.

Needless to say some players (and their agents) are still putting out rumors of MLB interest to squeeze a few more bucks out of their Asian teams.  I saw a rumor that MLB teams had an interest in the KBO’s Casey Kelly.  He re-signed with the LG Twins for a $1.2M guarantee and $300K in incentives.  Similar rumors have been floated about Mel Rojas Jr. which probably means he’ll soon re-sign with the KT Wiz for a nice raise from 2019.

In a strange move I hope to hear more about later, the Kiwoom Heroes will not be re-signing Jerry Sands, who was the KBO’s best foreign hitter in 2019.  The Heroes pay the worst of any the KBO’s teams, at least when it comes to foreign players.  They paid Sands only $500,000 last year for what was his first full KBO season.  My guess is they offered him a raise to something like $800,000 and he wanted something more like $1.2M.  I expect Sands to surface with an NPB team, because at 32 in 2020, he’s a little old for a return to MLB.

The Heroes signed Taylor Motter for a paltry $350,000 to replace Sands, and I doubt it’s going to work out well for the Heroes.  Motter slashed a dismal .206/.298/.343 in 70 games for two AA teams in 2019.  Hard to see him hitting in the KBO.  Odds are he’ll end up as an overpaid back-up middle infielder.

More Asian Comings and Goings

December 2, 2019

In terms of players moving between MLB and the Asian majors, the biggest news since my last post on the subject is that slugging 1Bman Justin Bour will be playing for the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s NPB in 2020.  No word yet on what Hanshin will be paying him, but it’s likely for a guarantee of over $1 million, given Bour’s major league pedigree.

I don’t think it’s necessarily a great signing by Hanshin.  Bour is entering his age 32 seasons, and players of his talent level and size (he’s listed at 6’4″ and 270 lbs).  His 2018 season was a big step down from 2015-2017, and in 2019 he played his way out of a major league contract for 2020.

Bour also has a big career platoon split, which helped make him a useful major league platoon player, but which doesn’t bode well for Japan, where he will expected to play every day for the money he’s getting.  If Bour can hit NPB right-handers well enough to stick, it may just be a matter of time before we see him getting a day off to “rest” every time Hanshin faces a tough lefty starter.

The Hiroshima Carp have signed South African born Tayler Scott to a deal that pays him a $175K signing bonus and a $525K salary, which may or may not be guaranteed.  Scott has major league stuff, but not major league command — sometimes these kind of pitchers do very well in NPB, where the margin for error is greater than the MLB majors.

Drew VerHagen and Aderlin Rodriguez are two more MLB system products who will be playing in NPB next year.  VerHagen has enjoyed some MLB major league success and should be a good bet to perform well for the Nippon Ham Fighters in 2020.  Aderlin Rodriguez is something of a bargain-basement player for a bargain-basement team, the Orix Buffaloes.

Rumors have it that Pierce Johnson and Joely Rodriguez will be returning to MLB for 2020, at least if they get the contract offers they are hoping for.  IMHO they are both likely to receive major league contract offers.

The SK Wyverns of the KBO will be posting South Korean ace Kwang-hyun Kim.  You may remember that Kim was posted a few years’ back, but failed to reach agreement with the winning bidder, the San Diego Padres, and returned to South Korea.  Kim then promptly tore his elbow tendon and missed a season.

Since then, Kim has firmly re-established himself as one of the KBO’s two best domestic starters, and he wants to give MLB another shot, although he’s already 31 years old.  Reports have it that MLB teams are interested, but we’ll see what kinds of offers he gets or doesn’t get.

New MLB system players who will be plying there trade in the KBO in 2020 are Aaron Altherr, Mike Wright, Adrian Sampson, Dixon Machado and Nick Kingham.  The NC Dinos signed both Altherr and Wright and is giving them the best deals so far for first year foreign KBOers this off-season — both Altherr and Wright will reportedly receive $200K signing bonuses and $800K guaranteed salaries, which is the most they can make under the league’s salary cap.  Nick Kingham will also reportedly receive a $900K guarantee, although $200K of that is for a team option for 2021, most likely also for $900K, so if things go right for Kingham and the SK Wyverns, he’ll earn $1.6M over two seasons.

Meanwhile, the low-budget Kiwoom Heroes re-signed pitcher Eric Jokisch for a second KBO season at a modest $700K max, which includes have-to-earn-’em performance incentives.  No one ever said life was fair.

Slugging It Out in South Korea: The Best Foreign Hitters in KBO History

October 5, 2019

This is the second update on a piece I originally posted back in 2015 and the first since after the 2016 season.  South Korea’s KBO only began allowing foreign players in 1998, and it’s is a young league, starting play only in 1982.  This means the records for foreign players are very much in play.

Initially, KBO teams brought in mostly hitters; and the foreigners, at least at first, hit a lot of home runs.  As the league improved, KBO teams began to realize after about 2005 that foreign pitchers were worth more to them than the hitters — so much so that by 2012 and 2013, there were no foreign hitters in the league at all.

KBO teams expanded the roster space for foreigners from two to three beginning with the 2014 season, as the league was undergoing expansion, with the requirement that one of the three be a position player/hitter.  Foreign hitters have been back in the league the last six seasons and have fully taken advantage of what was until the 2019 season an extreme hitters’ league.  However, relatively few have lasted long enough in the KBO to challenge the foreign player records set before 2010.

Batting Average  (2,000 at-bats)

1.     Jay Davis      .313

2.     Tyrone Woods   .294?  (no stats on baseball reference for Woods’ 1998 KBO season, but he batted .305 that season and .291 for the rest of his KBO career.)

3.     Tilson Brito    .292

Hits

1.      Jay Davis   979

Jay Davis had far and away the best career of any foreign hitter in the KBO, with Tyrone Woods as the only other player in the conversation.

The problem is that very few foreigners have had long careers in the KBO.  Until the last ten years, when increased revenues made bigger salaries possible, the foreigners who played in KBO were clearly a cut below the foreign players who signed with Japanese NPB teams.  They tended not to maintain their initial KBO performance levels for long — three full seasons was and still is a long KBO career for a foreigner — or they moved on to greener NPB pastures or back to MLB.

Home Runs

1.     Tyrone Woods   174

2.     Jay Davis             167

3.     Eric Thames       124

4.     Cliff Brumbaugh  116

5.     Tilson Brito         112

6.     Karim Garcia      103

6.     Jamie Romak     103

8.     Felix Jose            95

In the early days (late 1990’s and early 2000’s), KBO teams paid foreigners to hit home runs.  The most prolific was Tyrone Woods, who blasted 174 dingers over five KBO seaons and then moved on to the NPB, where he blasted 240 HRs in six seasons.  Woods never played even one game in the major leagues, and there are some reasons to believe that PEDs may have had something to do with his tremendous Asian performance, at least by the time he reached NPB.

Eric Thames was the best of the hitters to join the KBO since the foreign player roster expansion in 2014, and he was the caliber of player who would have signed with an NPB team during the earlier era when KBO teams were signing foreign sluggers.  As I predicted in October 2016, Thames did return to MLB (I actually predicted he’d sign with either an MLB or NPB team that off-season), and his contract has been an absolute steal for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Cliff Brumbaugh played briefly for the Rangers and Rockies in 2001 before starting a successful seven year career in South Korea and Japan.  You probably remember Karim Garcia and Felix Jose, who both had significant major leagues careers, and you may even remember Tilson Brito, who played in 92 MLB games in 1996-1997 for the Blue Jays and the A’s.

Jamie Romak is the latest slugger to etch his name on my lists.  He’ll almost certainly be back in the KBO in 2020, as his 29 HRs and .882 OPS were tied for second best and 11th, respectively, in the 10-team circuit, so he’ll have an opportunity to move up the HR list.  It’s also likely that former Philadelphia Philly Darin Ruf will return to the KBO in 2020, when he’ll have a chance to put his name on one or more of my lists.  Mel Rojas, Jr. is also good enough and young enough to have a real chance.

Runs Scored

1.     Jay Davis    538

RBIs

1.     Jay Davis   591

2.     Tyrone Woods   510

As you can see from the above numbers, the KBO records for foreign hitters are ready to be broken in all categories, because so relatively little has been accomplished by foreign hitters to date.  It’s mainly a matter of whether any of the post-2014 crop of foreign hitters hangs around long enough to add their names to my lists as the seasons pass.

Is It Worth Tanking to Improve Your MLB Draft Position?

September 25, 2019

My team, the SF Giants, are currently in line to get either the 13th or 14th pick in the 2020 June Draft.  Gints fans will remember that the team made deals at the trade deadline, but they were kind of push.  The team sold on a couple of relievers, but also made trades designed to help the team going forward in 2019.  The Gints still had an outside shot at making the play-offs at the trade deadline, and they play in a market large enough to make total rebuilds relatively expensive.

Is it worth tanking, at least once the team has realized it has no reasonable chance of making the post-season, in order to get a higher selection in the next MLB draft?

I looked at the first twelve draft picks from the June drafts starting with 1987 (the first year the June draft was the only MLB amateur draft conducted for the year) through 2009 (which is long enough ago that we should now know whether the players drafted were major league success stories).  Suffice it say, with the first 12 draft picks of each June draft, the team imagines it has drafted a future major league star in compensation for sucking ass the previous season.

In order to keep things simple, I used baseball reference’s career WAR totals to determine whether each drafted player was a major league success.  Not precise, I’ll admit, since what drafting teams really care about is the first six-plus major league seasons of control.  However, I don’t know how to create a computer program to figure out the years-of-control WAR for each drafted player, and I’m not sure I’d be willing to spend the time to do so even if I knew how.  Career WAR seems a close enough approximation.

Also, for purposes of my study, no player is considered to have lower than a 0 career WAR — you cannot convince me that a drafted player who never reaches the majors is worth more than a drafted player who played in the majors but had a negative career WAR.  A player reaches and plays in the majors 9 times out of 10 because he is the best player available at that moment to take the available roster spot.  The tenth time, he is worth trying to develop as a major league player because of his potential upside.

As a result, I did not bother with averages.  Instead, I looked at median performances (i.e., for the 23 players picked at each of the first 12 draft slots during the relevant period, 11 players had a higher career WAR and 11 players had a lower career WAR than the median player.

Also, if a player was drafted more than once in the top 12, because he didn’t sign the first time drafted, I still counted him as his career WAR for each time he was drafted.

Here we go:

1st Overall Pick.  Median player:  Ben McDonald (1989, 20.8 Career WAR).  Best Players drafted with the No. 1 pick: Alex Rodriguez (1993, 117.8 career WAR); Chipper Jones (1990, 85.3 WAR); Ken Griffey, Jr. (1987, 83.8 WAR).  Odds of drafting a 15+ WAR player = 61%.  [Examples of 15+ WAR players are Mike Lieberthal (15.3 WAR); Gavin Floyd (15.6 WAR); Eric Hosmer (15.7+ WAR); and Phil Nevin (15.9 WAR).]  Odds of drafting a 10+ WAR player = 65%.  [Examples of 10+ WAR players are Rocco Baldelli (10.2 WAR); Shawn Estes (10.4 WAR); Todd Walker (10.5 WAR)  ; and Doug Glanville (10.9 WAR).]  Odds of drafting a 5+ WAR player = 70%.  [Examples of 5+ WAR players are John Patterson (5.0 WAR); Mike Pelfrey (5.3 WAR); Billy Koch (5.4 WAR); and Sean Burroughs (5.5 WAR).]

2nd Overall Pick.  Median player: Dustin Ackley (2009, 8.1 WAR).  Best Players drafted with the No. 2 pick: Justin Verlander (2004, 70.8+ WAR); J.D. Drew (1997, 44.9 WAR).  Odds of drafting a 15+ WAR player = 35%.  Odds of drafting a 10+ WAR player = 43%.  Odds of drafting a 5+ WAR player = 70%.

3rd Overall Pick.  Median player:  Philip Humber (2004, 0.9 WAR).  Best Players drafted at No. 3: Evan Longoria (2006, 54.2+ WAR); Troy Glaus (1997, 38.0 WAR).  15+ WAR player = 22%10+ WAR player = 35%5+ WAR player = 43%.

4th Overall Pick.  Median player: Tim Stauffer (2003, 3.8 WAR).  Best Players drafted at No. 4: Ryan Zimmerman (2005, 37.7+ WAR); Alex Fernandez (1990, 28.4 WAR).  15+ WAR player = 17%10+ WAR player = 26%5+ WAR player = 39%.

5th Overall Pick.  Median player: zero value.  Best players drafted at No. 5: Mark Teixeira (2001, 51.8 WAR); Ryan Braun (2005, 47.7+ WAR).  15+ WAR player = 30%10+ WAR player = 35%5+ WAR player = 39%.

6th Overall Pick.  Median player: zero value.  Best players drafted at No. 6: Derek Jeter (1992, 72.6 WAR); Zack Greinke (2002, 71.3+ WAR).  15+ WAR player = 9%10+ WAR player = 13%5+ WAR player = 26%.

7th Overall Pick.  Median player: Calvin Murray (1992, 2.1 WAR).  Best players drafted at No. 7: Frank Thomas (1989, 73.9 WAR); Clayton Kershaw (2006, 67.6+ WAR).  15+ WAR player = 30%10+ WAR player = 39%5+ WAR player = 48%.

8th Overall Pick.  Median player: zero value.  Best players drafted at No. 8: Todd Helton (1995, 61.2 WAR); Jim Abbott (1988, 19.6 WAR).  15+ WAR player = 13%10+ WAR player = 26%5+ WAR player = 39%.

9th Overall Pick.  Median player: Aaron Crow (2008, 2.6 WAR).  Best players drafted at No. 9:  Kevin Appier (1987, 54.5 WAR); Barry Zito (1999, 31.9 WAR).  15+ WAR player = 26%10+ WAR player = 26%5+ WAR player = 48%.

10th Overall Pick.  Median player: Michael Tucker (1992, 8.1 WAR).  Best players drafted at No. 10: Robin Ventura (1988, 56.1 WAR); Eric Chavez (1996, 37.5 WAR).  15+ WAR player = 39%10+ WAR player = 48%5+ WAR player = 52%.

11th Overall Pick.  Median player: Lee Tinsley (1987, 1.7 WAR).  Best players drafted at No. 11: Max Scherzer (2006, 60.5+ WAR); Andrew McCutchen (2005, 43.6+ WAR).  15+ WAR player = 13%10+ WAR player = 17%5+ WAR player = 22%.

12th Overall Pick.  Median player: Bobby Seay (1996, 3.0 WAR).  Best players drafted at No. 12: Nomar Garciaparra (1994, 44.2 WAR); Jared Weaver (2004, 34.4 WAR).  15+ WAR player = 26%10+ WAR player = 39%5+ WAR player = 48%.

What do I conclude from all of the above number-crunching and name-dropping (and my cursory review of the Nos. 13-15 draft picks during the relevant period)?  It’s worth tanking to get the first or second pick in the June Draft or to get one of the top ten picks.  Since teams bad enough at the trade deadline to have a reasonable shot to get the No. 1 or 2 picks will be tanking no matter what, the only real lesson is that teams that have the 11th to 15th worst record in MLB approaching the trade deadline and realize they have no reasonable shot to make the post-season should SELL, SELL, SELL in order to get one of the top ten draft picks the next June.

The second lesson I take from my study is that teams should ALWAYS draft the player they think to be the best available/remaining if they have a top 12 or 15 draft pick and PAY what it takes to sign the player, unless the potential draftee has made it clear he will not sign with the team under any circumstances.  After the two best players in any given draft, there is too much uncertainty for teams not to draft the player they think is the best available.  Drafting a player the team thinks is a lesser player in order to save $2 million to throw at a high school player drafted in the 11th round is going to be a bad decision in most cases, particularly in the current regime where teams get a finite budget to sign their first ten draft picks, and the draftees know the cap amounts.

I see no obvious difference in the results for the third through tenth rounds, because, I assume, after the first two consensus best players in any given draft, teams have different opinions about the merits of the next, larger group of potential draftees, to the point where it more or less becomes a crap shoot.  After the first two rounds, and with the notable exception of the 10th round, the median player drafted with the third through 12th pick isn’t really worth a damn, and the odds of selecting a 15+ WAR player, a true star, are considerably less than one in three.

As a final note, I don’t like the fact that post-trade-deadline waiver deals can no longer be made.  I don’t see the downside in allowing losing teams to dump their over-paid veterans after the trade deadline (but before the Sept. 1st play-off eligibility deadline) in exchange for some, usually limited, salary relief and prospects, while play-off bound teams get to add veterans so they can put the best possible team on the field come play-off time.  I hope MLB can find a way for these deals to resume in the future.

An Interesting Off-Season Awaits Josh Lindblom

August 21, 2019

Ace Josh Lindblom currently has a 19-1 record in South Korea’s KBO.  He’s leading his league in wins, ERA (2.03) and strikeouts (152 in 155 IP). He’s pitching so exceptionally well (even though the KBO has not been the hitters’ league this season it was in years’ past), mlbtraderumors.com is reporting that “MLB scouts have been attending [his] KBO starts in droves.”  He is now 34-5 in the KBO since the beginning of the 2018 season(!)

The upshot is that Lindblom is going to have an exciting upcoming off-season.  There is nothing a player wants more than to be desired and have options.  I’m sure Lindblom’s agent has already printed out the mlbtraderumors.com post for later reference.

Lindblom will be going into his age 33 season in 2020, which is old in terms of drawing serious interest from an MLB team.  On the other hand, Lindblom has a much stronger past MLB track record than most foreign KBO pitchers.  Lindblom pitched in 114 major league games across parts of five MLB seasons and posted a very respectable 4.10 ERA with decent ratios, although he made only six major league starts.

Lindblom plays for the KBO’s wealthiest team — the Doosan Bears — and KBO rules on foreign player contracts changed last off-season.  New foreign players or foreign players switching KBO teams cannot be paid more than $1M for their first contract.  However, KBO teams are now allowed to sign foreign players to multi-year contracts for the first time.

The highest salary paid to a foreign player by a KBO team to date is the $2.2M or $2.3M the Doosan Bears paid Dustin Nippert in 2017, coming off a 2016 Nippert season not unlike Lindblom’s 2019.  This season, Lindblom has a base salary of $1.77M plus $150,000 in performance incentives he’s likely to earn in full.

Without the rule change, Lindblom would probably be looking at a $2M contract for 2020 with a team option for $2M for 2021 and a $500,000 buyout, so a $2.5M guarantee for one season.  With the rule change (but KBO revenues probably down), Lindblom is most likely looking at a two-year contract with a $4M guarantee from the Bears.  Even with the rule change, I don’t see the Bears taking more than baby steps on a long-term contract for a foreign player, particularly one going into his age 33 season.

Because of his age and lack of NPB experience, I don’t see a Japanese team beating the Bears on a $4M guarantee.  To an MLB team, however, $4M is not big money.  An MLB won’t pay that much if they don’t have to, but if only one of the 30 MLB teams likes Lindblom, two years and a $4M guarantee is easily matched.

Former KBO ace Merrill Kelly signed a two year deal with a $5.5M guarantee with the Diamondbacks last off-season.  He hasn’t been great, but fangraphs says his value has been $11.9M so far this season, so he’s been a bargain.  Kelly is three years younger this year than Lindblom will be in 2020, and Kelly had better strikeout rates in the KBO than Lindblom.  However, Lindblom has a much better past MLB major league record, and his accomplishments the last two KBO seasons speak for themselves.

If an MLB team thinks Lindblom is worth a $4M guarantee, I think he’ll be back in the U.S. in 2020.  If not, he’s likely to get a record-setting KBO contract that will set a precedent for KBO foreign players going forward.