While fans continue to wait for many of the top free agents to sign, it is being reported that the Texas Rangers have agreed to terms with RP Seung-hwan Oh. Oh is coming off of a bit of a down year in 2017 after posting fantastic numbers as a rookie in 2016. The 2018 season will be Oh’s third in MLB, but he will turn 36 in July after spending a number of years in Korea and Japan before coming to MLB.
MLB reporter Ken Rosenthal shared the initial report on Twitter:
Sources: #Rangers in agreement with free-agent reliever Seung Hwan Oh, pending a physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 6, 2018
Devan Fink with Beyond the Box Score shared details of the reported contract. According to Fink, the deal is a one-year deal with a team option for a second year:
Source: Rangers agree to sign Seung-hwan Oh. One-year, $2.75 million deal. Club option for year two at $4.5 million. Peformance bonuses of up to $1 million in both seasons.
— Devan Fink (@DevanFink) February 6, 2018
Report: Texas Rangers to sign RP Seung-hwan Oh
Oh made his professional debut in Korea in 2005. He played for the Samsung Hawks of the KBO from 2005-13 and posted 277 career saves before signing to play in Japan. Oh would spend two seasons with the Hanshin Tigers of the Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB) where he continued to impress on the mound.
For his time in Korea and Japan, Oh was a seven-time KBO all-star, the 2005 KBO Rookie of the Year, a five-time Korea Series champion, and led the NPB in saves twice. His 277 saves is still the all-time record for the KBO.
Arrival in MLB
After seeing him dominate in Korea and Japan, the St. Louis Cardinals originally signed Oh ahead of the 2016 season. His first season with the Cardinals went incredibly well, as Oh displayed the same kind of results he had overseas. In 79.2 innings pitched, Oh posted a 1.92 ERA with 19 saves and 103 strikeouts.
Unfortunately, 2017 did not go as well for Oh. He managed just 59.1 innings pitched out of the Cardinals bullpen and posted a 4.10 ERA while allowing twice as many home runs (10 to 5) as he did in 2016 and striking out nearly half as many batters (54). Oh then headed to free agency as St. Lous elected not to re-sign the struggling reliever.
While Oh is coming off of a tough season, there is certainly reason to believe he can find the groove that allowed him to be a dominant closer in the past. However, at 35-years old, Oh may not have much left in the tank. If he can return to his 2016 form, the Rangers will have a consistent piece to plug in at the back end of their bullpen. Either way, a one-year deal limits the risk for Texas and gives Oh a chance to show he can still contribute in MLB.
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