Mariners Take Chance on Kuo


A nice little pick up by the Seattle Mariners today, as they add lefty reliever Hong-Chih Kuo to their bullpen. The former Dodgers setup man signs a one-year Major League contract, a pretty good deal for a player with his recent injury history.

The injury history overshadows the dominant fashion in which Kuo went about his business over the last three years. He boasted one of the best strikeout rates in the Majors across 2008-2010 before running into health issues in 2011. Another elbow surgery and a scary bout with anxiety issues limited the fireballing lefty to 40 very bad appearances in 2011.

If he is healthy, Kuo gives the Mariners an excellent setup option for closer Brandon League. If unhealthy, well, there are no bad one-year deals. An exciting pitcher like Hong-Chih Kuo makes all of baseball better, let alone a team looking for excellent relief pitching like the M’s. Taking a chance on a once great, oft-injured hurler on a one-year deal has almost no downside.

Update: The Mariners signed Shawn Camp, too! Superpen in the Northwest!

Comments (10)

  1. I agree that the Kuo signing makes sense because he has fairly significant upside, but the comment that there are no bad one year deals seems to me like an inaccurate cliche. While one year deals may not cripple a team financially, roster spots are valuable and oftentimes rebuilding teams will sign a veteran player to a one year contract and give him a roster spot while worthy prospects remain in the minors.

    • As a relief pitcher, I don’t think that applies. As a player with a history of injuries, he can camp out on the 60 day DL if need be. Considering how good he was in both 2008 and 2010, it is indeed a worthy gamble.

      Also: if the team decides to mishandle their roster, that’s their fault. The one year contract doesn’t oblige them as a multi-year deal of option heavy contract might.

  2. I agree with you that it doesn’t apply to relief pitchers–it seemed as though you were saying that there were no bad one year contracts in general. If the Jays were to sign Vlad Guerrero or Johnny Damon for example, that would be a bad one year contract.

  3. Hong Chih was criminally undervalued in 08 and 10. He put up +1.5 WAR in only 60-80 innings. Impressive. Can you immagine if you had more pitchers pilling up +1.0 WAR with 100 innings?? Your talking shut down BP at that point.

  4. I can’t believe with the “superpen” Blue Jays assembled they couldn’t use a flier on Kuo. Exactly like you stated in article clubs could just stash him on 60-Day DL in case of injury. But then again I’m biased towards fellow Chinese on my favourite team

  5. MLBTR also reporting that the Mariners signed Camp. For whatever that is worth.

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