MLB Notes: Japanese/Korean Postings, Puig Interest?

KBO And Nippon Players With MLB Background Yasiel Puig

  • Korean Baseball Organization star shortstop Ha-seong Kim is set to be posted to MLB teams on Wednesday
  • Japanese star right-hander Kohei Arihara and outfielder Haruki Nishikawa will be posted to MLB team as well, although timing is unclear
  • Outfielder Yasiel Puig, who sat out the 2020 season after not finding a contract, is reportedly receiving interest from three MLB teams at this point

While we await the dominos to fall in MLB’s “hot stove” season that should, at some point, start seeing some high-profile names join Charlie Morton coming off the free-agent market while it appears likely we could see some significant trades this offseason as well, such as the Indians’ Francisco Lindor likely playing in a new uniform in 2021.

That said, the MLB posting system saw some news roll in of late while a former MLB superstar looks to once again make his mark on the league in 2021.

KBO Superstar Kim to be Posted Wednesday

Shortstop Ha-seong Kim of the Korean Baseball Organization’s Kiwoom Heroes will be posted Wednesday, as per Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News.

Kim, 25, will immediately become one of the top free-agent names available at a position that has few options on the free-agent market, at least this offseason.

While the likes of Marcus Semien, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons and Freddy Galvis highlight the MLB portion of the shortstop market, Kim’s services could be in higher demand.

Last season, he posted a .306/. 397/.523 slash line with 30 home runs, 109 RBI and 24 doubles across 138 games as one of the top bats in the KBO. Furthermore he stole 23 bases and drew more walks (103) than strikeouts (91).

A seven-year KBO veteran, Kim has a career .294/.373/.493 triple slash with 133 homers across 891 games. Over the last two seasons, he’s hit 49 home runs and stolen 56 bases while posting a wRC+ of at least 141 in both seasons.

Several teams are in need of a shortstop this winter, one season prior the elite shortstop class of 2022 that is scheduled to include the likes of Lindor, Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Javier Baez and Carlos Correa.

Teams with an immediate need at short include the Oakland A’s, Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies, although Kim’s market will be far larger than that non-exhaustive list as positional versatility throughout the bigs will allow teams to move their current shortstop elsewhere to accommodate a potential Kim signing.

Two Japanese Stars to Join

While Kim is bar-none the biggest star that will be posted from overseas this winter, a pair of stars from Japan’s Nippon Pro Baseball league will be posted for MLB teams this offseason, although the timing remains unclear at this point.

The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters plan to post star right-hander Kohei Arihara, as per MLB.com’s Jon Morosi.

Arihara, 28, has spent all six of his NPB career with the Nippon-Ham. He worked to a 3.46 ERA and 1.17 WHIP with 106 strikeouts against just 30 walks across a team-high 132.2 innings in 2020. He was the finalist for the Eiji Sawamura Award – Japan’s equivalent to the Cy Young – after posting a 2.46 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and recording 15 wins in the 2019 season.

Also to be posted is outfielder Haruki Nishikawa, also of the Fighters, according to Jim Allen of Jballallen.com.

Nishikawa, 28, is a 10-year NPB veteran who slashed a career-high .306/.430/,396 with five homers, 39 RBIs, 42 stolen bases and 92 walks across 523 plate appearance in 2020. He’s led the Pacific League in stolen bases three times, owns three Gold Gloves and has posted an OBP of .378 or better in five consecutive seasons.

As per the MLB-NPB posting agreement, every MLB team will have 30 days to negotiate with Arihara and Nishikawa once they’re posted. Any club that signs them will have to pay the Fighters 20% of the the first $25M of their contract as a posting fee.

Both players would return home if they are not signed to an MLB deal this winter.

3 Teams Showing Interest in Puig

From overseas back to North American, it appears a former MLB superstar is looking to get back into the league and make an impact in 2021.

Former Dodgers superstar Yasiel Puig, who split the 2019 season between the Reds and Indians, is receiving interest from three MLB teams after he was unable to land a contract for the 2020 season.

Puig, who recently switched agents and is now represented by Rachel Luba – who also represents 2020 NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer – said on Twitter that he has spent his time away from baseball plotting to return “in total shape, physically, mentally, and spiritually fit.”

In 2019, Puig slashed .267/.327/.458 with 24 homers and 19 steals between the Reds and Indians. While the counting stats were solid, Puig’s 101 wRC+ tied a career-low from the 2016 season.

In seven MLB seasons, the 29-year-old has slashed .277/.348/.475 with a 124 wRC+, although the best two seasons of his career were all the way back in 2013 and 2014 with the Dodgers in which he combined for 9.4 fWAR. In the five seasons since, he’s posted a combined 8.4 fWAR.

Still, it appears he’s generating early interest on the free-agent market from the likes of the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and Houston Astros.

The Red Sox have lost outfielders Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. over the last 12 months and appear set to roll out an outfield consisting of Andrew Benintendi, Alex Verdugo and Michael Chavis. The Orioles could utilize the likes of DJ Stewart, Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, Ryan Mountcastle and Trey Mancini in the outfield and designated hitter spot, but Puig locking down a full-time role in right could make sense.

The Astros are set to lose three outfielders from their 2020 roster including Michael Brantley, George Springer and Josh Reddick, so their need is obvious.

It appears whoever signs Puig could get a more focused – and possibly more productive – player for the 2021 campaign.

Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.