KBO club Eagles sign ex-MLB pitcher Burch Smith

SEOUL– The Hanwha Eagles announced their signing of former major league pitcher Burch Smith on Sunday.

The 32-year-old right-hander agreed to a one-year deal worth up to US$1 million, the maximum amount allowed for first-year foreign players in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO). The Eagles said Smith will earn $700,000 in guaranteed salary, $100,000 in signing bonus and up to $200,000 in incentives.
Smith pitched in 102 major league games for five clubs between 2013 and 2021. He made his big league debut in 2013 with the San Diego Padres, who’d drafted him in the 14th round two years earlier.

Smith went 1-3 with a 6.44 ERA in 10 appearances as a rookie and was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in December 2014. He missed the 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair torn elbow ligament, and the journeyman went on to pitch for the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics.

In the majors, Smith had a 5-11 record with a 6.03 ERA in 191 innings, along with 184 strikeouts. In seven minor league seasons, Smith went 27-18 with a 3.34 ERA in 382 1/3 innings, while striking out 412.

Smith spent the 2022 season in Japan, pitching for the Seibu Lions in the Nippon Professional Baseball to a 3.29 ERA across 38 1/3 innings in 20 games.

According to Baseball Savant, Smith averaged 93.4 miles per hour with his four-seam fastball in his last big league season in 2021. He threw that pitch nearly 69 percent of the time, while mixing in curveball, changeup and slider.

Eagles general manager Son Hyuk said Smith will be the team’s No. 1 starter in 2023 because he can dominate hitters with his stuff and can put up big strikeout numbers.

“Because of his experience playing in Asia, we expect him to make a smooth transition to the KBO,” Son said. “He throws a hard fastball with sharp movements, and by changing speeds with his secondary pitches, he can be effective against both left-handed and right-handed batters.”

Smith joins the returning right-hander Felix Pena in the rotation. With those two pitchers in the mix, the Eagles need to sign a position player to fill their foreign player spots for next year.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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