On the surface, according to MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli, it appears that Korean pitcher Suk-min Yoon and the Orioles have agreed, tentatively, to a three year, $5.75 million contract. Yet the Orioles haven’t said much regarding the deal because … wait for it … it depends upon Yoon passing a physical.
The ball club is understandably keeping relatively quiet regarding the deal, most likely waiting for the completion of the physical. With the drama that the Orioles have already been through this off season, “pending a physical” could easily mean deal or no deal.
The Orioles have had very public spectacles over physicals this off season. The first with closer Grant Balfour whose two year, $15 million contract seemed all but a done deal, that is until the physical. Although the All-Star closer insisted that he was healthy and that his shoulder was just fine, Balfour’s physical revealed issues surrounding his knees and wrists. The deal was promptly dropped by Baltimore and Balfour had to find another team with which to sign. The Aussie was not a very happy camper after this deal fell through, telling the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser that Orioles general manager, Dan Duquette, did not treat him with “respect” and that the Orioles had just “lost their best chance at winning.” Balfour went on to sign a two year, $12 million contract with one of his former teams, the Tampa Bay Rays.
Another public extravaganza surrounding an Orioles reportedly done deal, pending a physical, involved outfielder Tyler Colvin. The deal was reported to be a guaranteed Major League Baseball contract. It was reduced to a minor league contract after a physical revealed issues with Colvin’s back. He did not accept the minor league deal and is still a free agent. Rumors reveal that there is a chance he could accept the Orioles minor league deal as a fall back if he is unable to sign a MLB deal with another club. Regardless of what happens to Colvin, it was just another public situation, revolving around a physical that the put the Orioles in the spotlight.
While almost every MLB team requires a physical when signing new players, this has seemingly been a problem in Baltimore. It has created negative press for the Orioles and, so, it is not surprising that they have not made any big, official announcements regarding adding Yoon to their starting rotation.
It makes sense for the Orioles, who have been looking for another starting pitcher, to go after Yoon especially after free agent pitcher AJ Burnett signed with the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday. Yoon, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez are the main free agent pitchers left on the market. Plus, Santana and Jimenez will not only expect large contracts, the team that signs them will also have to give up a draft pick to either the Kansas City Royals, for Santana, or the Cleveland Indians, for Jimenez, in order to complete the deal. Both Santana and Jimenez rejected their former teams’ offers of $14.1 million at the end of last season, thus tying themselves to one of the teams’ draft picks. With Yoon, the Orioles will not have that issue.
Yoon, 27, has been a consistent pitcher in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) and is hoping to make the jump to MLB with the same success as his countryman, Hyun-jin Ryu, has done with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Last season with the Dodgers, Ryu was 14-8 with a 3.00 ERA. Yoon had a breakout year in 2011 in the KBO going 17-5 with a superb 2.45 ERA in 172.1 innings pitched to go along with 178 strikeouts. 2012 wasn’t as spectacular, but he still managed to put up strong numbers. In 2013, Yoon had a shoulder issue that held him to only 30 games for the Kia Tigers, his KBO team. Once recovered, the Tigers asked Yoon to close games instead of starting them, and the Korean hurler ended up with seven saves by the end of the season. Now the supposedly healthy Yoon could be an excellent addition to the Orioles, being the much needed starter or even the closer for the club. Baltimore has been actively looking for both this winter.
Although Yoon has deemed himself healthy and proved it at the end of his 2013 season in Korea, it is possible that he may fail his physical. Anything is possible but according to CBS’ Jon Heyman’s sources, it is unlikely. Fortunately for the Baltimore Orioles, it looks like the third time might just be the charm.