Arguably the biggest, or most talked about, name in free agency this offseason has been Masahiro Tanaka. The Japanese pitcher has come over to the U.S. and has begun talking to teams looking to add his services. The only catch is the team that signs him has to put up a $20 million posting fee on top of the contract they sign with him. There is no doubt that most, if not all, teams are going after Tanaka, but there is one pitcher from Asia who is seemingly flying under the radar. It just might be a pitcher the A’s could be interested in.
Suk-min Yoon, a Free Agent Korean-based pitcher who formerly pitched for the KIA Tigers of the KBO (Korean Baseball Organization) has quietly become an attractive consolation prize to the Tanaka sweepstakes. He has pitched for the South Korea national team including during the Olympics and the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He was also the 2011 KBO MVP. After some early struggles in his career Yoon has become a dominant pitcher garnering likes to Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish. While his repertoire does not have the depth or power of the former pitcher he does have an excellent array of pitches and pinpoint control.
There are a variety of reasons that point to a possible signing by the A’s and some reasons as to why it won’t happen.
As I mentioned above, Yoon has flown under the radar and could come at a relatively cheap price, especially compared to Tanaka’s rumored fetching price. Also compared to Tanaka, Yoon has a lot less miles on his arm as Tanaka workload has popped up some potential concerns. He also could suit the A’s because of the aforementioned control. The A’s will always take control over power as it generally comes at a cheaper price.
There are a few reasons that make an A’s signing of Yoon a long shot. The first is the posting system. While the NPB (Japan’s professional baseball league) and MLB have come to terms on a new posting system the KBO and MLB have not. That means the A’s would have to outbid the teams that do not sign Tanaka. Those teams could include the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers; teams with much deeper pockets than the Green and Gold.
The reason that is most likely to halt the A’s signing of Yoon is because of his agent. Yoon recently signed on with super agent Scott Boras. Boras is a longtime agent who is known in the industry to always get the biggest contracts for his clients which generally leads him to the larger market teams. It remains to be seen if the A’s have the financial means to not only sign Yoon to a contract, but also pay the posting fee regardless of agent.
If the A’s can sign Yoon he would be a huge addition to an already strong rotation. With Sonny Gray, Jarrod Parker, Scott Kazmir, and a combination of any two of A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily, or Tommy Milone the A’s would do well to add an experienced pitcher capable of being the Ace of a team. It is probably a long shot, but if there is anything we have learned during GM Billy Beane’s tenure is that anything is possible.