Orioles, Chong reach preliminary agreement
The Orioles are closing in on the signing of right-handed reliever Chong Tae-Hyon out of South Korea as the two sides — which were involved in heavy negotiations on Monday –have agreed to terms according to a baseball source.
The exact length and money involved in the deal was not immediately known, as exact details were still being hammered out. The Orioles had no comment on Chong, who would need to undergo a physical examination before anything can be made official. A 33-year-old submarine-style pitcher Chong closed out South Korea’s gold medal win over Cuba in the 2008 Summer Olympics, and his poise on the big stage was a major plus for the Orioles, who will most likely be using Chong in the later-innings of their bullpen.
Baltimore’s executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette –while declining comment on reports out of Korea earlier in the day that the deal was only pending medicals – did acknowledge that the organization was “very interested” in acquiring the free agent reliever. Duquette, who said during his first news conference since joining the organization that he is going to be aggressive internationally, singled out Chong’s pinpoint control and success against tough competition.
“He has a lifetime ERA under 2,” Duquette said. “[A] unique delivery. He has gotten results on the world stage when it’s counted.”
Since Chong is a free agent he didn’t need to be posted and he will join a bullpen that figures to undergo some vast changes this offseason. Chong has served as a starter, but Duquette said that the Orioles’ interest would be in using him as a late-inning arm. The club is still mulling over moving setup man Jim Johnson to the rotation and will need to bolster the bullpen even further if they decide to go through with that.
Assuming the deal does become official, Chong would be the first Korean player to make the jump directly from the KBO to the Major Leagues.