The Angels may have priced themselves out of the international amateur market for the next two years with the blockbuster signing of shortstop Roberto Baldoquin for $8M (with a 100% overage tax of ~$7M), but that doesn't preclude the club from dipping into another international market: Asia.
Recently, mlbtraderumors.com reported that both 28-year-old third baseman Jae-gyun Hwang and outfielder Ah-seop Son have asked their club, the Lotte Giants of the Korean Baseball Organization, for permission to be posted this offseason. Wait a minute, we need a third baseman and an outfielder! This could work out! And what a soft cultural landing importing countrymen and teammates would create. Just recently, we saw a report that much of Cuban-born Roberto Baldoquin's first-season struggle was attributable to his new surroundings and the feeling of being a fish out of water. Imagine if he had a friend and teammate along for the ride...he could have hit .250+!
Unfortunately, the latest update is that the KBO will allow the Giants to post one, but not both players. So, there's one obstacle. Also, the Giants have made it known that they will try to convince both players to stay in the KBO for one more year. Strike two. So, if the Angels were to dip their toes in the international market, and their current GM, Billy Eppler, comes from a team that has A LOT of experience in the international market, both in Latin American and Asian countries, which of the two Korean players would you want to pursue?
Reports are that Hwang, a righty, is a good defensive corner man and he has played in every KBO game since 2011. He also had a wonderful year at the plate, putting up a .290/.350/.521 slash line in 2015. He also belted 26 dingers, but as MLB Trade Rumors noted:
KBO did up its number of regular-season contests from 128 to 144 this season, but even on a per-plate-appearance basis, his homer output markedly increased, and he won the KBO’s annual home run derby this season as well.
Son, who hits from the left side of the plate and is a year younger than Hwang, put up a .317/.406/.472 slash line this year. He hit 13 long balls and stole 11 bags in 17 attempts. He has stolen as many as 36 bags in the past, and he's hit above .300 every season since 2010. He's not as much of a power threat as Hwang, but he does possess excellent on-base skills, posting an OBP above .370 in each of the past six seasons.
Jae-gyun Hwang is more likely to be posted, since he's got more service time and will hit free agency next year, meaning that the Lotte Giants wouldn't be able to secure any sort of posting fee for his services after the 2016 season. Ah-seop Son, on the other hand, won't reach free agency until the 2017 offseason. As for the cost, if we were to use Hwang's good friend Jung Ho Kang as an example, the Pirates paid a measly $5M posting fee and gave him a four-year deal for $11M. Not too shabby. Granted, neither Hwang nor Son possess the same type of power as Kang, but a $16M outlay seems like an okay risk for a guy like Arte Moreno.
Oh, and since I know you're all curious, Hwang's bat-flip game is top notch. (Check out 0:47 in the video below.)
What say you, Halos Heaven faithful? Which guy is more appealing?