We still aren’t ready for the 2019 MLB season to officially come to an end and already the international market is beginning to take shape. The Mariners have already been linked to Shogo Akiyama, but could they look for an arm too?
What we know about the Seattle Mariners is that they are unlikely to make a flashy move this winter but are going to be scouring the market for what GM Jerry Dipoto calls, “opportunity buys”.
The phrase is a bit ambiguous but we have little risk in assuming this means Dipoto will be looking for pitchers whose markets will be depressed by a variety of factors. Pitchers coming off of injuries, poor performances, and perhaps upside plays from overseas?
The latest international free agent expected to make the transition to the majors is Korean left-handed pitcher Kwang-Hyun Kim. In fact, Ken Rosenthal tweeted this:
There is no guarantee Kim will actually make his way to the big leagues but the numbers are looking awfully good for the 31-year-old. His 2018 season was similar to his 2019, posting a 2.98 ERA with 130 strikeouts in 136 innings with just 30 walks.
The numbers seem to indicate that Kim misses a good amount of bats and has a good command of the strike zone, but translating these numbers to major league equivalent is impossible and therefore can’t play a major role in the discussion.
The scouting report on Kim seems to back up what the numbers say. He has a simple delivery that he repeats well. There are some concerns about his durability as at 6’2″, 180 lbs, he isn’t as built out as many scouts would like.
The stuff is above-average and includes a 91-94 MPH fastball and two breaking balls. The slider is the better of the two and he can bury it on the back foot of righties as well as backdoor it at 86-88 MPH. The curveball is a solid offering as well and sits at 74 MPH with a loopy, sweeping motion.
The Mariners are likely more interested in an MLB veteran on a one year deal, but if they believe Kim can be a legitimate, middle-of-the-rotation MLB starter, like Yusei Kikuchi, then he may be worth an investment. The age isn’t ideal and Kim has some mileage on his arm, but the stuff appears to be MLB quality.