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Heroes sign new pitcher; Lions, Landers bring back foreign players

All News 17:48 December 17, 2021

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Dec. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korean baseball clubs had a busy Friday with foreign player transactions, with one club signing a new pitcher and two other clubs retaining familiar faces.

The Kiwoom Heroes announced their signing of the American right-hander Tyler Eppler to a one-year deal at US$400,000.

American pitcher Tyler Eppler (C) signs his contract with the Kiwoom Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization, in this photo provided by the Heroes on Dec. 17, 2021. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Eppler, 28, was a sixth-round draft choice by the Pittsburgh Pirates but has yet to pitch in the big leagues. He has put in six seasons in the minors and spent the 2019 season in Japan with the Orix Buffaloes.

He returned home to pitch for the Rochester Red Wings, the Triple-A affiliate for the Washington Nationals, in 2021. He went 2-9 with a 7.75 ERA in 19 appearances, including 15 starts.

Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) clubs can sign up to three foreign players but no more than two foreign pitchers. They're looking to re-sign left-hander Eric Jokisch for a fourth season here. They earlier acquired former major league outfielder Yasiel Puig.

Also on Friday, the Samsung Lions re-signed right-hander David Buchanan and designated hitter/outfielder Jose Pirela.

In this file photo from Nov. 9, 2021, David Buchanan of the Samsung Lions pitches against the Doosan Bears in Game 1 of the second round playoff series in the Korea Baseball Organization at Daegu Samsung Lions Park in Daegu, some 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Buchanan will be back for his third season in the KBO on a new one-year deal worth up to $1.7 million. He will earn $1.1 million in salary, $100,000 in signing bonus and up to $500,000 in incentives.

In 2021, he went 16-5 with a 3.10 ERA in 30 starts. He tied for the league in wins, while setting a franchise record for most victories by a foreign pitcher in one season. His 177 innings pitched were also most by a foreign hurler in Lions' history.

Pirela is coming back for his second season with the Lions and will make up to $1.2 million -- $600,000 in salary, $200,000 in signing bonus and a maximum $400,000 in incentives.

While making $800,000 this year, Pirela led his team with 29 home runs and 97 RBIs in 140 games. He also endeared himself to fans and teammates for his hustle on base paths.

Having earlier acquired right-hander Albert Suarez, the Lions have completed their foreign player signing for 2022. Of the 10 KBO teams, only the Lions and the Eagles have taken care of business on that front.

In this file photo from Oct. 30, 2021, Jose Pirela of the Samsung Lions celebrates his two-run home run against the NC Dinos in the top of the first inning of a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Changwon NC Park in Changwon, some 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

The SSG Landers moved a step closer to that point, after re-signing right-hander Wilmer Font to a one-year pact at $1.5 million. He will earn $1.1 million in salary, $200,000 in signing bonus and up to $200,000 in incentives.

Font was 8-5 with a 3.46 ERA in 145 2/3 innings this year, holding the fort for a starting rotation decimated by injuries to three pitchers early in the season.

He ranked second in the KBO in strikeouts per nine innings with 9.70 and in walks and hits per innings pitched with 1.09.

The Landers earlier signed new foreign infielder Kevin Cron and are looking for a new pitcher from overseas.

In this file photo from June 24, 2021, Wilmer Font of the SSG Landers pitches against the LG Twins in the top of the first inning of a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Incheon SSG Landers Field in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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