Kim Returns to Doosan, Yanagita Signs Seven Year Pact with Hawks

It was not a surprise to see major league teams not jump at the chance to sign a potential 30 homerun outfielder from Korea. Especially since those 30 homerun days had occurred in the past. Asking your team to post you is not a good idea after you have had a bad year.

Jae-Hwan Kim had won the MVP in 2018 with his 44 homeruns and 133 RBIs while hitting .334. The previous two years he had hit over .300 with homerun numbers of 35 and 37 and RBI stats of over 100. It was after the 2018 season he should have asked the Bears to post him.

In 2019 Korea went to a new ball and the numbers Kim had put up dropped off the cliff. He hit .283, slugged only 15 homeruns and drove in just 91, respectful numbers for the KBO but not Kim worthy. He requested to be posted after that season, his age 31 season. Major league scouts had not taken a close look at Kim since there were no indications he was going to request to be posted. Were injuries a reason for his numbers to drop? The change to the new ball? A drop in ability?

So Kim returns to the Bears. If he puts up good numbers will he again try to pursue a major league opportunity? Or will he be satisfied with his KBO career?

Another player the major leagues will not have an opportunity to sign is Yanagita. Yuki Yanagita, a star in Japan would obviously be a starter on any major league team if he had forced the Hawks to post him. The Softbank Hawks have yet to allow their players to be posted to the major leagues. Instead, Yuki recently signed a seven year contract with the Hawks, which means his career will remain in Japan. Major league teams will have to be content with watching Yuki in international events such as the World Baseball Classic and the Olympics. At 31 years of age now, Yanagita will be 38 when that contract expires.

Last year Yanagita missed most of the season because of a knee injury. The injury caused him to miss most of the season, putting him short by 13 days of service time to allow him to become a free agent. If he could have played in 2019 Yanagita could have declared for free agency after the 2019 season. Because of the injury he would have had to wait until after the 2020 season, when Yanagita would have been 32 years old to declare free agency. Major league teams do not sign 32 year old outfielders to rich contracts.

When Yanagita’s career ends, and if he can avoid injury, he could put up numbers that will make him one of the ten best players in Japanese history, up there with Sadahara Oh and Ichiro Suzuki.

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