According to the latest rumors, Korean outfielder Ah-Seop Son plans to enter the posting system this offseason, which would bring him one step closer to joining the MLB. Are the Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants and Baltimore Orioles a few teams that would bid for him?
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported last night that the Lotte Giants, Son’s current team in the Korean Baseball Organization, are aware of the 27-year-old’s intention of making a move to the MLB. Once he posts every MLB team will have the option of posting a blind bid to obtain exclusive rights to negotiate a contract with him.
Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jung Ho Kang was the focus of such happenings last season. You can read more about the whole process here.
Anyway, once the offseason hits, it’s expected many MLB clubs will be interested in Son due to the success of Kang in 2015. The 28-year-old Kang was an NL Rookie of the Year candidate after batting .287/.355/.461 with 60 runs scored, 15 home runs and 58 RBIs in 126 games before breaking his leg last week.
Kang signed a four-year, $11 million deal with Pittsburgh after his incumbent Korean club, the Nexen Heroes, accepted the Pirates’ $5 million bid, which brought Kang’s total price tag to $16 million. The transaction proved to be perhaps the biggest bargain of the offseason.
Son is currently batting .321/.408/.471 with 82 runs scored, 12 home runs, 52 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in 108 games in the KBO. His stock might rise due to Kang’s performance in his rookie MLB season, but he’ll still probably be cheaper than most other free-agent outfielders. So let’s take a look at who might be interested in him.
The Cubs will need outfield help after the season, especially if they plan to use Kyle Schwarber more behind the plate. Dexter Fowler will be a free agent (as will Austin Jackson), and although the Cubs plan to present him with the qualifying offer, it’s likely the veteran prefers a long-term deal. Also, the health of Jorge Soler is certainly a big question mark after his lengthy absences this season.
Chicago has been linked to Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes and Jason Heyward in rumors, but it’s unknown if they’d be willing to dish out another long-term lucrative contract to an outfielder if they’re serious about going after another ace (or two) for their starting rotation. David Price is rumored to be atop their wish list, and it’s possible other teams such as the Los Angeles Angels, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals are poised to make a run at this year’s free-agent outfielders.
Son is a corner outfielder and could certainly help Chicago in left. It’s unknown if he’d be able to play center, but that would likely be better for them. His ability to get on base would be a crucial at the top of the Cubs’ lineup, especially if both Fowler and Jackson depart in free agency.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants outfield was a mess this season. Nori Aoki (who will become a free agent) and Hunter Pence missed most of the year with injuries. Marlon Byrd was acquired at the trade deadline, but he’ll likely become a free agent (his $8 million vesting option kicks in with 550 plate appearances and he’s got 49 to go in the team’s final 12 games).
They’ll need one of their outfielders to get on base next season, especially after Angel Pagan batted a paltry .266/.302/.335 over 121 games thus far.
Rumors suggest the Giants will first look to address their starting rotation because they’ll have a number of starters hit free agency and will be freeing up over $40 million in payroll. If their priorities stand with high-priced starters such as David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Scott Kazmir, Jordan Zimmermann, Jeff Samardzija and others, then Son could be a good target of theirs.
However, rumors have also suggested Cespedes, Upton and even Heyward could be on their radar. If that’s the case, there will be no need for Son because the outfield would be full.
The O’s were also in the market for Upton and Cespedes before the trade deadline, but instead they acquired Gerardo Parra. He’ll be a free agent after the season and it’s unknown if Baltimore would be willing to re-sign him for four years and $44 million, which seems to be the rate he’ll be going for.
But biggest of all, Chris Davis hit the market and it’s highly unlikely the Orioles will be able to retain him. Steve Pearce will also be a free agent, but after his lackluster 2015 it doesn’t look like the O’s will make him a priority.
Son would cost a fraction of the price as Davis and Parra and would give Baltimore the ability to still pursue another bat that won’t be as costly as Upton, Cespedes, Heyward or even Alex Gordon.
If Son’s career .399 on-base percentage can translate to the MLB, he’d be a great addition to bat in front of Manny Machado and Adam Jones.