The Lotte Giants were the first of the 10 teams to announce the re-signing of a foreign player. On November 16, they re-signed Aaron Wilkerson for a total of $950,000 ($150,000 signing bonus, $600,000 annual salary, $200,000 incentive). This is the first foreign player re-signing of the year.토토사이트
Wilkerson joined the team in late July as a replacement for Dan Straily and served as the team’s ace, going 7-2 with a 2.26 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 13 games and 79⅔ innings. It’s a limited sample from the second half of the season, but Wilkerson’s powerful stuff and reliable command have helped him break into the league. Lotte re-signed him for a relatively reasonable amount of money.
However, after Wilkerson’s re-signing, Lotte’s foreign player acquisition process, which seemed to move quickly, is showing signs of prolongation. First, left-hander Charlie Barnes, who played for the club for two years, has announced his intention to try out for the major leagues. He wants to try again to fulfill his unfulfilled major league dream. He informed the Lotte team of his intention to “watch the Winter Meetings,” and Lotte is respecting and waiting for Barnes’ decision.
MLB Network reporter John Morosi recently posted on social media, “Former Minnesota pitcher Charlie Barnes played for the Lotte Giants of the KBO for two years and is now a free agent. He started 30 games this season and posted a 3.28 ERA,’ and said, ‘Lotte wants to keep Barnes, but since he is a free agent, we expect major league teams to be interested.
Barnes was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the fourth round of the 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft and worked his way through the minor leagues to reach the major leagues in 2021. In nine games (eight starts) and 38 innings in 2021 for Minnesota, Barnes went 3-0 with a 5.92 ERA. It wasn’t a great record, but it wasn’t uncompetitive as a major leaguer either. It was a 40-man roster spot, and Barnes was in a position to compete if he wanted to.
At the time, however, the hot topic in Major League Baseball was labor agreement renewal. Negotiations stalled for most of the year, and the failure to reach a new agreement led to a lockout on December 2. All players were locked out of team training facilities and all contract negotiations were suspended. While the big-name players rushed to sign contracts just before the lockout, players at the bottom of the 40-man roster, like Barnes, were left behind. Barnes was left without a future.
In the end, Barnes chose to go to South Korea. The lockout was a turning point in his career. Barnes signed with Lotte for a relatively low total of $610,000 ($150,000 signing bonus and $460,000 annual salary). Over the next two years, Barnes proved himself in Korea. He finished last year with a 12-12 record and a 3.62 ERA in 31 games and 186⅔ innings pitched.
This year, Barnes re-signed with Lotte for $1.25 million ($350,000 signing bonus, $850,000 salary, $50,000 incentive). After an up-and-down first half, he broke out in the second half, going 11-10 with a 3.28 ERA in 30 games and 170⅓ innings pitched. He won double-digit games for the second year in a row and showed innings pitched over 170 innings. Lotte has placed Barnes on the disabled list, indicating their intention to re-sign him.
However, as the major leagues have begun to take notice of foreign players who have played in the KBO, Barnes has also become a target of the major leagues. With the major leagues facing a starting pitching shortage, Barnes’ performance in the KBO was noteworthy. Barnes is aware of this interest and is trying to make it to the major leagues again. Naturally, Lotte is preparing a Plan B and is not ruling out the possibility of parting ways with Barnes in the worst case scenario.
Signing foreign hitters hasn’t gone smoothly either. The team was hoping that Jack Rex would play a role this year, but he was forced out of the first half with a knee injury. His replacement, Niko Goodrum, was expected to be an athletic all-rounder, but a hamstring injury and defensive fears led to his withdrawal. He’s not even on the reserve list.
For Lotte, which has completely failed at farming foreign hitters, it is imperative to sign foreign hitters this year. Manager Kim Tae-hyung is looking for a long-hitting foreign hitter. Lotte is focusing on outfielders. However, their top priorities are all under contract with Major League Baseball clubs.
On May 5, a media outlet reported that Nick Senzel was a candidate, but it was confirmed that Senzel is not a candidate. Senzel was a highly touted prospect who was selected with the second overall pick in the first round of the 2016 draft. Called up to the majors in 2019 after three years, Senzel finished his career with a .323 average, 33 home runs, 125 RBIs, and a .671 OPS in 377 games. He is an outfielder by trade and can play both second and third base.
His career was somewhat derailed by knee surgery in 2021, and he was released as a non-tender on Nov. 18. Senzel is entering his third year of salary adjustment eligibility, and his salary last year was $1.95 million (about 2.5 billion won). For Lotte, Senzel’s experience and youthful age (28 years old, born in 1995) may be attractive, but it’s the major leagues that are attracted to him.
MLB.com listed 10 “intriguing players” for non-tender releases, and Senzel was one of them. It described him as “a versatile player who hasn’t had success in the majors but can see time at second base, third base and all three outfield positions.
Barnes will now have to wait to be selected, and the team is looking at a wide range of options at the plate. A full roster of foreign players is likely to be a while off.