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S. Korean pitcher Yoon Suk-min officially signs with Baltimore Orioles

All Headlines 14:05 February 18, 2014

SEOUL, Feb. 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korean pitcher Yoon Suk-min has officially signed a multiyear contract with the Baltimore Orioles after passing his physical, the Major League Baseball (MLB) club announced Tuesday (Korean time).

The Orioles said they will formally introduce Yoon at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon in Sarasota, Fla., the site of the O's spring training camp.

Yoon's deal is worth US$5.75 million for three years, and the value could hit around $13 million with performance-based incentives. According to the team's official website, Yoon's contract is the largest handed out by the Orioles this offseason both in terms of its length and its monetary figure.

Yoon is the second South Korean to move directly from the Korea Baseball Organization to the majors. Left-handed pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers made that jump in December 2012 and won 14 games in his rookie season in 2013

The 27-year-old right-hander reportedly reached an agreement with the Orioles last Thursday and the U.S. media reported on Sunday that Yoon had passed his physical. He tweeted a photo of himself wearing an Orioles cap days before his deal was reported.

Yoon has been at the Orioles' training complex since the weekend. He will need his work permit to appear in spring training games but can still train with the Orioles while his visa is being processed.

Yoon was voted the MVP in the KBO in 2011, after taking the pitching Triple Crown for the Kia Tigers with 17 wins, 178 strikeouts and a 2.45 ERA.

Yoon was sidelined at the start of the 2013 season with a shoulder injury and was limited to 87 2/3 innings. He went 3-6 with seven saves in 30 appearances, 11 of them starts, with a 4.00 ERA, 76 strikeouts and 28 walks.

The three-time KBO All-Star has a career record of 73-59 with 44 saves and a 3.19 ERA in 303 appearances. In 1,129 innings, he has struck out 949 batters and walked 345. He has been both a starter and a closer in his KBO career.

Yoon pitched for South Korea at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the 2009 and 2013 World Baseball Classic (WBC). Starting the semifinal match against Venezuela at the 2009 WBC, Yoon held the South American team of MLB veterans to two runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, as South Korea romped to a 10-2 victory.

During this offseason, the Orioles had agreements with two free agents, Grant Balfour and Tyler Colvin, fall through after the players' physicals. Balfour, a relief pitcher, went on to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays, while Colvin, an outfielder, remains a free agent after a pre-existing back injury foiled his deal with the O's.

In late 2011, South Korean pitcher Chong Tae-hyon had agreed to join the Orioles but failed the team's physical. The right-hander ended up signing with the Lotte Giants in the KBO.

Also in 2011, the Orioles signed Japanese left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada to a two-year, $8.15 million deal. He never got to pitch for the big league club, however, after undergoing an elbow reconstruction operation, commonly known as Tommy John surgery.

Aside from Ryu and Yoon, the Texas Rangers' outfielder Choo Shin-soo will be the other big leaguer from South Korea in 2014. Right-hander Lim Chang-yong pitched briefly for the Chicago Cubs last season and has been invited to the Cubs' spring training this month to fight for a big league job.

Dan Duquette, the Orioles' executive vice president of baseball operations, has long been known for his active pursuit of South Korean players. While he was the general manager for the Boston Red Sox from 1994 to 2002, Duquette signed three South Korean pitchers -- Kim Sun-woo, Cho Jin-ho and Lee Sang-hoon -- all of whom reached the majors during his tenure.

In February 2012, the Orioles botched the signing of a South Korean high school sophomore, Kim Seong-min, when they failed to tender a status check, as required by MLB teams seeking to acquire a South Korean player.

The Orioles issued an apology for their mishap. The left-hander's contract was not approved by the MLB for 30 days, and Baltimore ultimately didn't sign Kim. Baltimore scouts are banned from attending amateur baseball games in South Korea.

Last July, the O's signed a South Korean left-hander, Yoon Jung-hyun, a college dropout, to a minor league deal.


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