Oh, What a Relief He Is -- Rockies Add Korean Reliever to Bullpen
Looking to reinforce the back end of the bullpen, the Rockies finalized the acquisition of Seung-Hwan Oh from the Blue Jays in exchange for three minor-league players on Thursday. The Blue Jays will receive infielder Chad Spanberger and outfielder Forrest Wall as well as a player to be named later.
There were earlier reports that Sean Bouchard, a first baseman/outfielder who, like Spanberger, is with Low-A Asheville, was part of the deal, which proved to be unfounded.
Oh, 36, comes with a low financial guarantee. He has a $1.75 million salary for this season with an option at $2.5 million in 2019 and a $25,000 buyout. The option, however, automatically vests if he makes 70 appearances. He appeared in 48 games with the Blue Jays, leaving him 22 appearances shy of next year's deal vesting.
A veteran in professional baseball in his native Korea and Japan, Oh pitched for the Cardinals the past two seasons, and then excercised an opt-out clause in the deal, and signed with the Blue Jays as a free-agent in the off-season.
He made a strong first impression, going 6-3 with a 1.92 ERA with the Cardinals in 76 relief appearances in 2016, but was 1-6 with a 4.10 ERA a year ago. With the Blue Jays this year he has a 2.68 ERA in 47 innings, striking out 55 with only 10 walks.
Oh is tied for fifth in the AL in 48 appearances, and his 5.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio is 10th among AL relievers. He has been unscored upon in 19 of 21 appearances dating back to June 7, having allowed two runs in 20 innings.
He, however, has struggled against left-handed hitters, who have hit .315 against him with 10 strikeouts in 56 at-bats compared to right-handed hitters, who have a .190 average and have struck out 45 times in 119 at-bats.
Spanberger, 22, is hitting .316 in 91 games at Asheville with 65 runs scored, 20 doubles, three triples, 22 home runs, 75 RBI, 20 walks and 82 strikeouts. A mid-season All-Star, Spanberger also has 16 stolen bases. He was the Rockies sixth-round draft choice a year ago out of Arkansas, and was ranked the 28th best prospect in the Rockies system by Baseball America.
Wall, 22, opened the season at High-A Lancaster but was promoted to Double-A Hartford. He has a combined stat line of a .260 average, 70 runs scored, 17 doubles, six triples, nine home runs, 31 RBI and 28 stolen bases in 93 games. The Rockies competitive Balance Round A choice in the 2014 draft out of Maitland, Fla., High School, and was ranked the 18th best prospect in the organization by Baseball America. He has had surgery on both shoulders, which led to him being moved from second base to center field.
Oh joins a bullpen that already included the Rockies major off-season decisions. They re-signed left-handed reliever Jake McGee to a three-year contract, and also signed three-year deals with free agent right-handers Bryan Shaw and Wade Davis. McGee and Shaw were both guaranteed $27 million. Davis, the closer, is guaranteed $52 million.
Davis has a misleading 4.50 ERA. With a shutout ninth inning on Wednesday, which resulted in him earning a victory when Charlie Blackmon delivered a walk-off home run against the Astros, Davis has a 4.50 ERA. He, however, allowed 14 earned runs in 3 2/3 innings of four appearances, and has a 1.64 ERA in the 40 other appearances.
Shaw, who has shown signs of pitching better since coming off the disabled list, has a 6.97 ERA for the season. His ERA was 7.57 in his first 41 appearancse, before being sidelined with a calf strain. In four appearances since returning, he has allowed one run in 4 1/3 innings. That run came on July 20 when he retired the first five batters he faced, striking out four, and then came out after giving up a two-out base hit. The runner eventually scored.
The left-handed McGee has a 5.97 ERA. He allowed only two earned runs in his first 11 appearances of the season. In the 29 appearances since he has a 7.77 ERA.