Will Koo Dae-sung be able to play ball in the New York Yankees striped uniform?
Koo, a 35-year-old left-hander who has played in the Korean and Japanese baseball leagues, leaves for the United States in pursuit of a contract with a Major League Baseball (MLB) team. Koo, along with his wife, will depart for the United States on December 4 and stay there for about 10 days to have negotiations with MLB teams officials.
On December 6, Koo will leave Los Angeles for Tampa, Florida and have an initial meeting with Yankees officials. It is reported that either Mark Newman, the Yankees senior vice president, or Gordon Blakely, the Yankees vice president, will be in charge of conducting negotiations with Koo.
The Yankees have kept an eye on Koo for a long time. In the midst of this season, it sent Pacific Rim scout John Cox to Japan and observed Koos pitching.
The reason why the Yankees is interested in Koo is his unique pitching form and the nasty stuff that makes the ball very difficult for left-handed batters to hit. He hides the ball behind the glove until he starts a pitch, even after the wind-up, making it extremely difficult for left-handed hitters to beat. When Koo was playing in the Korean League, Lee Seung-yeop, then the best slugger in the league, was only 6-for-41, struck out 22 times, with a batting average of .146
The Yankees had a difficult time this season without solid left-handed relief pitchers. Their left-handed relief pitchers Felix Heredia (1-1, 5 holds, 6.28 ERA), Donovan Osborne (2-0, 7.13 ERA), C.J. Nitkowski (1-1, 7.62 ERA), and Gabe White (0-1, 3 holds, 8.27 ERA) had a very inconsistent and rough season.
In Japan, Koo had 24 wins and 34 losses, five wins and 10 losses with a 4.39 ERA this year. Though the figures seem sub-par, his performance itself was strong; it was because his team was weak.
The contract terms do not seem to matter too much as Koos agent said that the couple strongly favors going to the United States for the education of their daughter and son. This means that the money is not a big issue as it was for Lee Seung-yeop last year.
Moreover, as New York Mets is also eyeing on Koo, the possibility of Koo joining the MLB seems more real than ever before.