San Diego Padres Ko Woo-seok (26) will also challenge to become a closer in the Major League.
Major League Baseball’s official media MLB.com said on the 4th (Korean time), “San Diego signed a two-year contract with South Korean reliever Ko Woo-suk that includes mutual options in 2026. According to reporter Mark Paynesand, the contract was reported to be $4.5 million (about 5.9 billion won).”
Ko Woo-suk is a top-rated closing pitcher with 19 wins, 26 losses, 139 saves and an earned run average of 3.18 in 354 games (368 ⅓ innings) in the KBO League. He is attractive to have fastballs that speed up to 160 kilometers per hour. Last year, he had three wins, eight losses, 15 saves and an earned run average of 3.68 in 44 games (44 innings), and although he struggled somewhat in the Korean Series, he managed to secure his last out count in Game 5 of the Korean Series against KT, leading LG to win the Korean Series title for the first time in 29 years.
Ko Woo-seok, who challenged to advance to the Major League through posting after the end of last year’s season with his brother-in-law Lee Jung-hoo, has not been able to find his team for a while even after Lee Jung-hoo signed a six-year, $113 million (about 148.3 billion won) contract with San Francisco. However, news broke that a contract with San Diego was imminent on the 3rd, a day before the deadline for negotiations, and the contract was signed dramatically after Ko Woo-seok went to the U.S. to conduct a medical test. He shares a room with Kim Ha-sung, who won the Gold Glove in the National League Utility category last year.
In San Diego, Josh Hader, who played as a closing pitcher last year, became an FA and entered the market. San Diego, which is trying to reduce its team’s payroll, is not in a situation where it can renew its contract with Hader.
San Diego has turned its attention to Asian pitchers as its closing pitcher has been vacant. Prior to recruiting Ko, it acquired left-hander Yuki Matsui, who played as one of the best closing pitcher in the Japanese pro baseball, for a five-year guarantee of 28 million U.S. dollars. Matsui played in 501 games (659 ⅔ innings) in the Japanese pro baseball with 25 wins, 46 losses and 76 saves with 236 saves and an ERA of 2.40. Matsui’s contract reportedly includes 1.4 million dollars in annual incentives based on the number of games he has finished.
Aside from Ko Woo-suk and Matsui, right-handed bullpen pitcher Robert Suarez is also a candidate for closing pitcher. Suarez played in 45 games (47 ⅔ innings) with five wins, one loss, 11 holds, one save, and an ERA of 2.27 in 2022, but was sluggish in 26 games (27 ⅔ innings) with four wins, three losses and eight holds last year with an ERA of 4.23. Nevertheless, he is a pitcher who throws fastballs well enough to hit the top speed of 100.9 miles per hour (162.4 kilometers per hour) last year.
MLB.com said, “We will throw Matsui later in the game,” but hinted at recruiting additional bullpen members, saying, “We have to wait and see who has other options this offseason.” It seems that Ko has become one of those options. Three players including Suarez can compete for the position of closer in San Diego,” predicting that Ko will compete for closer position. “Whoever throws last, all three pitchers are likely to pitch in a high-leverage situation,” he added. 마카오토토주소
Ko was clearly a strong closing pitcher in Korea, but many said he still lacked completeness to advance to the Major League. In particular, the U.S. media pointed out Ko’s high rate of walks. San Diego, however, saw possibility in Ko’s pitching power. Unless there are major variables, Ko is expected to have at least a chance to win in the Major League this year.