Back in 2013, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Korean pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu. While many experts were skeptical about how his talent would translate to the big leagues, Ryu quickly became a star in the National League. Serving as the Dodgers’ number three behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Ryu has gone 28-15, posting a 3.17 ERA along with 293 strikeouts. This off-season one of Ryu’s old rivals will try and make the jump to Major League Baseball. His name is Hyeong-jong Yang and Padres’ fans should get familiar with that name. He could be wearing a San Diego uniform come 2015.
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First off, the Korean Baseball Organization and Major League Baseball still conduct business under the rules of the old posting system. That means that a team needs to place to his old team, in this case the Kia Tigers, before negotiating with Yang. The team that places the highest bid will gain exclusive rights to negotiate with the him. Now that that’s out of the way let’s get to the fun stuff.
Yang wasn’t exactly Cy Young over in the KBO although he did win the Choi Dongwon Award (The Korean equivalent to the Cy Young) last year. He went 16-8 with a 4.25 ERA which aren’t exactly Kershaw numbers. But over in the KBO, hitters are the dominant force and pitchers are basically t-ball tees. Still, the Padres, always looking to add more pitching depth, need to be in on Yang this off-season. After cutting ties with Josh Johnson they have a spot in the rotation to fill. Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy and Odrisamer Despaigne currently fill out the Padres staff, and it could use some beefing up with Cashner’s injury history, Kennedy’s inconsistency and Despainge’s… well nobody really knows what to make of him yet.
The 26-year-old left-hander profiles to be number three starter here in the Major Leagues. No, this is not the same thing as last year’s Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes. In an off-season highlighted by aces like Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields as well as lesser options like Ervin Santana, Brandon McCarthy and Jake Peavy, Yang isn’t going to get Tanaka money. Supply and demand is working against him. That makes him a perfect fit for the Padres, who can scoop him up and still have money left over to improve elsewhere. They’ll have to compete with the likes of the Yankees, Giants, Cubs, Red Sox and a few other suitors, but if General Manager A.J. Preller is looking to make a nice splash this off-season, Yang is a great place to start.