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Cubs to sign Korean pitcher Chang-yong Lim

Cubs to sign Korean pitcher Chang-yong Lim

The Cubs once again reached out to try and bring in talent from wherever they can find it.  The Cubs are close to signing 36 year old Korean RHP Chang-yong Lim, pending a physical.  They outbid 4 teams to land Lim.  Those teams are the Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, and Texas Rangers.

Lim is expected to sign a split major/minor league contract with an eye toward 2014, since he just had Tommy John surgery in July.  There's a chance he could be ready by late in the season, but it appears the Cubs are looking ahead here.

Lim is a relief pitcher and like Fujikawa sees a potential opening in the back end of the Cubs bullpen, with the team likely to part ways with Marmol between now and next season.

In 2011, Kim pitched 62.1 innings and recorded 32 saves, posting a 2.17 ERA for Yakult of the NPB. He walked 22 batters and struck out 69.  For his career he has 128 saves and a 2.08 ERA with 2.6 walks and 8.9 strikeouts per 9 innings.

His nickname is "Mr. Zero".  e has a slight build, 5'11", 175 lbs but throws hard.  He is a sidearm pitcher and according to Wikipedia has the highest k own velocity for a sidearmer, able to hit 99 mph but more regularly sitting at 93-95.  He also throws a slider, a forkball, and an occasional slow curve.  He's not a prototypical power closer, but his unorthodox sidearm/fireballing style may be difficult for MLB hitters at first.

For more on Kim, click here for stats and here for a quick bio.

At first glance it doesn't seem to fit with the Cubs plan to build with youth but Lim was sought after by several contenders.  The front office has said they want to build value through the closer role and now have signed two top NPB closers who have an excellent chance to outperform their contracts.

 

 

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  • At first blush, this seems to be an odd signing. Why sign a guy that will be 37 when healthy? His age makes it less likely that he comes back to form too... Any thoughts on why you add him?

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    Cubs always trying to create value out of that closer role. I'm guessing this is going to be a pretty team friendly deal and there's a reasonable chance he can outperform that contract even at his age.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    No mystery. When building a bullpen, you don't look to young guys. You look to experienced guys who know how to get guys out. The feeling must be that in 2014 as the Cubs become more competitive, he will be able to contribute. After that, trade or re-sign as we move forward.

  • Looks like the Cubs killed 2 birds with 1 stone. He's 36 AND just had TJ surgery.

  • Looks like a good gamble. Doubt he is going to cost much.

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    Apparently it was his SECOND TJ surgery too.

  • Keep on signing them and figure out later what to do with them
    later. Might be July trade bate (in a package)

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I'm sure they will. If this is a split deal as reported, I'm sure the Cubs won't have to use a roster spot right away.

  • Somewhat puzzling, but relievers typically hold effectiveness well into their 30s, so I don't really have too much of a problem with it. I mean isn't Darren Oliver like 45 these days?

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    I think this guy has a chance to come back as good as ever. As a sidearmer there's less strain on that elbow. Looks like a low risk signing.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Rangers in on him too and they typically do well with pacific rim signings. Could be a Uehara here. Or an Okajima. Cheap signing too since he's coming off TJ.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    Yes. Rangers very good out there. So are the Cubs, though, particularly with Korean players, which is tough to do because they're hard to project. Typically much smaller than American players.

    This should be inexpensive and not only can Lim help, but it looks like the Cubs are beginnng to establish bigger presence in the Pacific Rim. They had been making a push out there before but seems like it got quiet the last couple of years. It looks like this front office has renewed that pursuit. Another reason to like this front office.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    Ha! Missed that line about Oliver. How old was Orosco, didn't he pitch past his mid 40s too?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Wow lol Orosco pitched till he was 46, but somehow managed to maintain an era under 4 till he was 45.

  • Hoping we hear from Tokyo Craig with a first-hand report!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hah! Just seeing this news now (lunchtime in Tokyo!). Well, Lim's team, the Yakult Swallows, are the team in my neighborhood. He came from Korea to Japan in 2008. I've seen a bunch of Swallows games the last few years. In general, he was a solid closer, and occasional setup man, for them.

    As others are starting to mention, maybe we can get an Okajima or Uehara type performance out of him. Those relievers were both late 30s when they came to the MLB. But it will have to be in 2014, since his TJ surgery was just in July. Maybe we'll get a brief look late next year.

    I don't see him as a closer in the MLB. Hopefully a good 7th/8th inning guy for us in 2014. Fujikawa has a stronger chance to become an MLB closer.

  • In reply to TokyoCraig:

    Thanks Craig. Good stuff as usual. Looks like he should provide value above and beyond that contract if he's healthy.

  • Seems to me it's just the Cubs using their extra cash to obtain more assets anyway they can. If he comes back to form, he'll be a trade chip to a contender at the '14 deadline. And who knows, we might end up competing for a playoff spot in '14 and can use him ourselves. Stranger things have happened.

  • In reply to MrBillySir:

    Exactly...that pretty much sums it up.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed!

  • Are there any hitters out there that we could sign non-roster?

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    You mean out in the Pacific Rim?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Nakajima, the free agent shortstop - who probably needs to move to 3rd in the MLB - still seems to be out there...

    Not much else on the hitting front coming out of Japan this year.

  • In reply to TokyoCraig:

    He'd be a nice fit, I think. But to answer the second part of emartinezjr's question, I don't think he'd sign for a minor league deal.

  • I think this signing makes perfect sense. Relievers age is less important. He is coming off of TJS so he comes at a lower cost. He has a track record if late inning success. He won't take up a spot on the 40-man until he's ready. And he's the perfect low risk, high reward trade bait a rebuilding can turn a profit on. I don't see a downside here.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I hope that this is the case as far as the roster. If not, the Cubs have lots of juggling to do. Not sure on the specifics of the contract but will update when I find out.

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    If they have to put him on the 40 man roster, this is a very very questionable move.

    If they don't, not a big deal at all, and could turn out to be a genius pickup.

    Cubs have plenty of money to spend, about time they start spending it.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I hope not. If they do, it either speaks to how much they like him or how they're not ready to entrust late inning roles to young RPs.

  • Forgive my ignorance, but what does the phrase "Pacific rim" mean? I mean I know it refers to southeast Asia, but why "rim?" Anyone know?

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I thought it was just because it was the (west) end of the Pacific ocean, like the outer edge.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    In baseball terms, the "Pacific Rim" includes Japan, Korea, China and southeast Asia. I reality it includes all of the coastline of the Pacific Ocean. That would include the west coasts of Canada, United States, Central and South America. Also Australia.

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    The contract -- combined with Fuji's -- suggests, to me anyway, that Theo thinks he can compete in 2014.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Hadn't considered that possibility, but I think you're on to something Mike. Seems to me that's a year early, but a competitive team next season would be terrific.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    They're definitely win now type guys and it could save the Cubs from having to invest in a closer.

  • It's like Rocky chasing chickens but instead of "Speed, speed, speed!" it's "Depth, depth, depth!"

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    They've brought in a lot of quality arms. If they can just find a couple that work out it's a big boost to the bullpen.

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    In reply to Carne Harris:

    Love the analogy Carne...that's my fav part of Rocky II

  • When we start winning, Luigi, we gotta fire up Rocky 3:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSPNQ82Sq4E

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Ha! Great line.

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