Six Korean Free Agents

One or more major league baseball team has placed status checks on six Korean players who are free agents. Status checks with the KBO are required before a major league club can negotiate with a professional or amateur player in Korea. The KBO has four business days to respond to this status check. The identity of the major league team requesting the status check must be kept confidential. This information courtesy of Yonhap.

The six Korean free agents:

1) Kwang-hyun Kim (SK Wyverns) - The lefthander was posted in 2014 but Kim and the Padres could not agree on a contract. Now Kim is free to negotiate with any team in Japan, the KBO or the Major Leagues. Elbow problems limited Kim to just 137 inningsin 2016. The last two years his inning count had exceeded 170 innings. Prior to 2014 injuries limited his innings. When he could pitch he was effective finishing with a 11-8 record with a 3.88 ERA, excellent in the offensive minded KBO. Kim is not overpowering, sitting in the low 90s with his fastball, but he does throw left handed, a prized commodity in the major leagues.

2) Jae-gyun Hwang (Lotte Giants) - Hwang was posted last year, the Lotte Giants hoping to get some money for the third baseman before they lost him to free agency the following year. No team put a fee for Hwang, despite his .290, 26 and 97 production for average, homeruns and RBIs. This year those numbers improved to .335, 27, 113. He also stole 25 bases last year, 14 more than he had stolen the previous year. Hwang is currently in the United States holding work outs for major league teams interested in signing him. This year the Giants will get nothing for him.

3) Hyoung-Woo Choi (Samsung Lions) - The leftfielder was second in the MVP voting this year, despite his team missing the playoffs. He won the batting title with a .376 average with 31 homeruns and 144 RBIs. Those offensive numbers have to be taken into context in the offensive oriented KBO. Choi has hit 30 or more homeruns his last three seasons and has batted over .300 for four years in a row. At 32 years of age he may have to settle for a two or three year contract.

4) Hyun-Jong Yang (Kia Tigers) - The Tigers posted him in 2015 but did not like the offer they got for him and turned it down. Now Yang is free from the posting requirement. Yang won the ERA title in 2015 with an ERA of 2.44. This past year it was quite a bit higher at 3.68. That still falls below his career ERA of 3.95. Yang did pitch a career high 200 innings but his strikeout numbers were down while his hit numbers were up. At 28 years of age he would be an attractive gamble for a major league team in a weak free agent market for starting pitchers.

5) Woo-Chan Cha (Sansung Lions) - Cha gives up a lot of hits which results in ERAs over 4.50. In 2015 he gave up 28 homeruns but was able to reduce that to 16 in 2016. His ERA still only improved by .06 despite the reduction in homeruns. His strikeout numbers dropped but at 29 he could be worth a risk.

6) Kyu-min Woo (LG Twins) - The righthander saw his ERA rise from 3.42 to 4.91. His hits and homeruns went up with his walk number more than doubling despite pitching 20 less innings than the previous year. At 31 years of age he appears to be on the down side of his career.

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