The Cardinals signed left-handed, Korean starting pitcher Kwang-hyun Kim of the SK Wyverns to a two-year deal worth 8 million dollars. Kim can receive up to 1.5 million dollars in incentives in each year of his contract if he meets a certain criteria. Along with the incentives, his contract includes a clause to where he cannot be demoted to the minor leagues without his permission. Kim is 31 years old and turns 32 in July.
The St. Louis Cardinals decide to dabble in the Asian market for pitching depth on Tuesday for the 3rd time in the past 5 off-seasons. The Cardinals do seem to have success when it comes to this market as the last two players they have signed from either Korean or Japanese teams have panned out nicely for them. In January of 2016 the Cardinals signed Seunghwan Oh, “The Final Boss”, to solidify an already solid bullpen and give them a proven set up man for closer Trevor Rosenthal. Oh enjoyed immediate success for the Cardinals in 2016 and eventually became the Cardinals closer. He pitched well enough to have his contract extended by the front office via club option.
Then in 2018, John Mozielak decides to take a gamble on a MLB washout pitcher who succeeded in a few years in the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Miles Mikolas. Like Oh, Mikolas also enjoyed success in his first year back in the MLB and he also received an extension. Mikolas, on the other hand, received much more than a club option. His contract was extended for 4 more years for 68 million dollars. The Cardinals are hoping that this deal works out well just as the last two have. Kim hopefully can give them the starting pitching depth that they have been yearning for and at the very least gives them an excellent option for a long reliever or a lefty that can work multiple innings.
Kwang-hyun Kim, or “KK” as he prefers to be called, is predominantly a fastball/slider pitcher who pitches to contact mostly. His slider has been referred to by most as a “wipe-out slider” and he loves to throw it in any count. His fastball hits low 90s and he also features a slow curveball and a forkball to round out his repertoire. He recently enjoyed success in his last season in the KBO in 2019 as he had his best year since 2010. Kim won the equivalent of the MVP for the KBO as a pitcher in 2008 as he went 16-4 with a 2.39 ERA and was considered a budding star and MLB teams were lining up to place a bid on this guy. He followed up his MVP seasons with 2 more quality years and was bound for the MLB at a young age. But from 2011-2014 he had below average years and his MLB stock began to diminish. Then in November of 2014 the SK Wyverns posted Kim in hopes to cash out before his stock was gone completely. The San Diego Padres won the bid to negotiate with Kim but the two sides could not agree on contract terms and the deal fell through and Kim returned to Korea. In 2018, Kim started to find his control and began to dominate KBO hitters once again. The Cardinals reportedly scouted him immensely before ultimately deciding to offer him a contract.
Kim is a decorated Korean baseball player as he has competed in the Olympics, the World Baseball Classic, and the 2014 Asian Games. His awards in the KBO include the 2008 KBO MVP and 2008 Gold Glove.
During his press conference to announce his signing, he mentioned that he always wanted to play for the Cardinals. He was a fan of the success that they always seemed to have when he watched. He also mentioned that Seunghwan Oh spoke highly of the organization and that he would keep in touch with him. Kim plans on wearing number 33 for this year. Since the Cardinals had a full 40-man roster, the corresponding move to allow Kim onto the roster was designating Jose Adolis Garcia for assignment. On Saturday, the Cardinals traded Garcia to the Rangers for cash considerations.
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