Eric Peddy, 30, who was the best player in this year’s KBO league, will leave the Korean stage in the face of the dollar. However, there is now room for a player as close as Peddy’s in Korea.
Mark Feinsand of Major League Baseball’s official website MLB.com said on the 5th (Korean time), “Peddy is reportedly close to signing an unspecified team. The two-year contract period and annual salary is more than 5 million dollars.” Feinsand then reported that the Chicago White Sox and the New York Mets are competing teams.
Pedi’s return to the U.S. was somewhat expected. After the end of the season, he was consistently listed as a starting pitcher for this winter in the U.S. media. In November, MLB.com introduced Pedi as an “Asian League star” along with Lee Jung-hoo (Kium), Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix), and Yuki Matsui (Rakuten). “Some in the baseball community believe that Pedi can successfully settle down in the big league starting rotation,” the media said.
MLB Trade Lummers also mentioned Pedi as a notable FA resource, although he is not at the top of the rankings. The media said, “Pedi has outstanding performances in 2023 and has been a top-ranked prospect in the past, so he can receive a lot of attention.” He also said, “Given the past KBO players, such as Merrill Kelly (two years and 5.5 million dollars), Josh Lindblom (three years and 9.125 million dollars), and Chris Flexen (two years and 4.75 million dollars), he said, “Given the good record and annual salary inflation, it may exceed this amount.”
The NC Dinosaurs tried to renew their contract by putting Peddy on the list of players withheld for the 2024 season. However, NC manager Kang In-kwon (51) said after the season, “Peddy is in our plan, but it’s something we can’t do about it.” When asked whether he has the possibility of negotiating with NC at the KBO awards ceremony last month, he told reporters, “Of course, he did,” but chances are high that he will leave the Korean league in the end.
His mouth is watering in the U.S. because Pedi displayed tremendous performance this year. He signed a contract with NC Dinos for a total of 1 million U.S. dollars (down payment of 200,000 dollars and annual salary of 800,000 dollars) ahead of the 2023 season, and challenged to the Korean stage. Drew Lucinski (35), the ace who had 53 wins with NC for four years, was drawing attention as a player to fill the empty spot when he returned to the Major League. “He is a pitcher who throws various breaking balls, including a two-seam fastball with strong pitching power, and a cutter, curveball, and changeup, and boasts excellent ability to induce ground balls. He also has stable game management capability. I expect him to serve as a key member of the team’s starting lineup,” NC Dinosaurs general manager Lim Seon-nam said at the time of recruitment.
And as expected, Peddy became a pillar of the NC Dinos’ mound. He pitched 180 ⅓s in 30 pennant races, recording 20 wins, 6 losses, 209 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.00. He cooked batters with his “sweeper,” a slider that maximizes left and right movement along with many other pitches he pitched in the Major League. “Thanks to the sweeper he honed after leaving Washington, he struck out more than one per inning,” MLB.com said.
He had 20 wins and 200 strikeouts for the first time in 37 years since Haitai Sun Dong-yeol in 1986, and topped the list with multiple wins, ERA and strikeouts, earning three wins (triple crown) for the first time in 12 years since KIA Yoon Seok-min in 2011. Thus, it was also Pedi who won the Choi Dong-won award to the best pitcher of the year. He also won the MVP award at the KBO awards ceremony after the season, and was recognized as the best player in the league this year.
Manager Kang In-kwon met with Star News after the end of the season and said, “With Pedi, the calculation for the game in which he takes the mound will stand up. In the rest of the game, there was clearly a part where he used pitchers more actively. Pedi’s performance in that part was amazing,” he said. “He also showed passion in the baseball field, and he was a player who always thinks about the team and always thinks about him.”
Pedi was a full-time starting pitcher even before he moved to Korea. He pitched in a total of 102 big league games (88 starts) and 454 ⅓, recording 21 wins and 33 losses with an ERA of 5.41. In 2022, the last season of the Major League, he started in 27 games (127 innings), recording 6 wins and 13 losses and 5.81. However, he chose to go to Korea instead of staying in the Major League, which turned out to be a success.
The result is also revealed in ransom. After earning 2.15 million U.S. dollars in annual salary in 2022, Pedi moved to Korea after halving his salary. One year of patience has returned to Korea, and his salary is double that of the last season of the big league. As he is not old enough next year, he may receive more money in the future.
In the past, foreign players who came to the KBO League were often the end of their careers. Big League star players such as Julio Franco, Jose Lima and Carlos Baerga came to Korea, but they were already somewhat old at the time. However, as the KBO league’s standard has increased, young players in their mid to late 20s are more likely to be on the Korean stage, and there have been successful so-called “re-export” cases.
Key example is Kelly, who played for the SK Wyverns (currently the SSG Landers). Kelly, who had no big league experience before joining the KBO, left a record of 48 wins and 32 losses with an ERA of 3.86 in 119 games over the past four years. In 2018, he led his team to the championship of the Korean Series. After signing a contract with Arizona in 2019, he recorded 48 wins and 43 losses with an ERA of 3.80 during five seasons. He led his team to the World Series this season with 12 wins and eight losses with an ERA of 3.29. Kelly’s ransom next year is 8.5 million U.S. dollars, an amount that would have been unimaginable if he remained a minor leaguer.
The same was true of Luchinsky, Pedi’s predecessor. Debuting in the Major League in 2014, Luchinsky had an ERA of 5.33 in 41 games during four seasons, and only started once. In 2018, just before he entered the Korean league, he was paid 350,000 dollars. However, he improved his skills by working on splitters and cutters after joining the KBO, and was paid 2 million dollars last year. He then signed a contract with the Oakland Athletics for up to 8 million dollars per year for one plus one year ahead of this season. Although his team was released after the end of the season, he received an annual salary of 3 million dollars this year.
This can be interpreted as meaning that the KBO League can be a new starting point, no longer a destination. Players who can play in the Major League can raise their ransom in the Korean league and return to the big league, and other similar resources can come to the KBO in a cycle. There is room for players such as Kelly, Luccinski, and Peddy to continue to play. This is also why the leakage of foreign ace cannot be seen in a dark way. 안전놀이터