San Diego Padres Sign South Korean Closer Go Woo-suk to Two-Year Contract

SEOUL: Go Woo-suk, one of South Korea's top baseball closers, has signed a two-year contract with the San Diego Padres, bringing his talents to Major League Baseball (MLB). The right-handed pitcher, known for his performance with the LG Twins in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), completed the deal on Wednesday, just in time before the negotiating period ended.

According to Yonhap News Agency, worth US$4.5 million, was finalized following a successful physical, with only seven minutes remaining before the 2 p.m. (Pacific Time) deadline on the last day of his 30-day negotiating period. Go expressed his relief more than joy at the conclusion of the deal, stating that everything happened swiftly and he was still adjusting to the change.

Go Woo-suk, who debuted in the KBO in 2017, emerged as a prominent closer by 2019. From 2019 to 2023, he led all KBO relievers with 139 saves and a 2.39 ERA, while ranking second with 334 strikeouts. His career-best performance was in 2022 with 42 saves and a 1.48 ERA. However, Go faced challenges in 2023 with shoulder and lower back injuries, resulting in only 15 saves and an increased ERA to 3.68.

Despite a challenging year, the Padres were convinced by Go's overall performance and acquired him to strengthen their bullpen, which recently lost key players like Josh Hader and Nick Martinez to free agency. The Padres also signed Japanese closer Yuki Matsui, who has 236 saves in Nippon Professional Baseball.

Go joins the Padres as the second South Korean player alongside Gold Glove-winning infielder Kim Ha-seong. Additionally, the Padres are set to open their 2024 season in Seoul, facing the Los Angeles Dodgers in the "Seoul Series," marking MLB's first regular-season games in South Korea.

Go emphasized the need to earn his spot on the Padres' roster, acknowledging the competition he faces. He expressed that he doesn't consider himself a major leaguer yet but is determined to secure his place on the team.

The contract with Go includes a $3 million mutual option for 2026 with a $500,000 buyout. It also provides opportunities for Go to earn up to $9.4 million over the next three years through performance-based bonuses and escalators, including a $100,000 bonus for pitching in 70 games this year.

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