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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Notable MLB free agents are signing in Japan and South Korea during lockout; will bigger names follow?

The holiday weekend alone saw third baseman Rio Ruiz, a veteran of parts of six big-league seasons, and Chris Gittens, who appeared in 16 games with the New York Yankees, sign with Asian league teams. They join a growing list of departees that includes Yasiel Puig, Freddy Galvis, Ivan Nova, and so on. Former Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco was also reportedly close to a deal in Japan. It’s enough to make a casual observer wonder: is there an exodus underway, and could even bigger names flock overseas if MLB’s lockout endures into the spring?

“I’m actually not sure that is the case,” an Asian league scout told CBS Sports when asked if players seemed more willing to move to Japan or South Korea. “I’d like it to be, I thought it might be, but it looks a little ‘business as usual’ to me.”

To the scout’s point, the most notable players heading to Asia have had extenuating circumstances surrounding their exits. Puig, for example, had trouble landing a MLB contract even before he settled a civil lawsuit alleging he had sexually assaulted a woman. Galvis, meanwhile, signed a contract that could pay him up to $6 million over two seasons, a fair amount more than he would’ve received in the majors. As for Polanco … well, even MLB front-office types aren’t sure how to explain that one.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 29, 2021 at 02:47 PM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: japanese baseball, kbo, korean league, npb

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   1. Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: December 29, 2021 at 03:19 PM (#6058933)
As for Polanco … well, even MLB front-office types aren’t sure how to explain that one.


The 30 year old outfielder who got released by one of the worst teams in baseball after his third consecutive sub-100 OPS+ season? Yeah, can't imagine a guy like that struggling to find a job.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: December 29, 2021 at 03:27 PM (#6058936)
Galvis is the only "surprise" so far I think. I assume the FO befuddlement over Polanco is in the category of "we've been wondering how a guy this talented could be this bad for years" rather than "why would a guy with -3 WAR over the last 3 years sign overseas?" Anyway, he needs to do something to try to find himself and rebuild value.

As I've opined before, I think almost any fringe player should be thinking about this. Looking at the list, "big" names would be Castro, Khris Davis, Flores, Marwin, Moreland, Hamilton. Among pitchers, Chris Archer seems like an interesting possibility but really any fringe starter/reliever. But those leagues usually limit the number of foreign players and I assume aren't throwing out 2/$6 contracts like candy.

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