While news of the deal came over the weekend, the Cardinals made the signing of Korean relief pitcher Seung Hwan Oh official with a press conference on Monday at noon. Pictures were taken and standard questions were asked. Although there were reports of a contract lasting two seasons with a team option that could take the deal to $11 million, John Mozeliak confirmed that Oh's deal was for just one season with a club option for the following season.
According to Derrick Goold, the contract totals $5 million with the team option. Even without knowing the exact figure, this signing likely puts the Cardinals around $140 million for the Opening Day payroll this year.
During the press conference Mozeliak indicated that they had been watching Oh since 2009 in Korea. Mozeliak expected Oh to compete for a late-inning relief role, but Trevor Rosenthal was expected to remain the closer. He also indicated that the Cardinals and Oh had a deal in place for some time, but that finalizing it took some time due to Oh's suspension in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO).
Oh's suspension was for gambling at a casino outside of Korea, which is against the law in Korea. As was discussed in th initial post on the potential acquisition of Oh, the prosecutors have requested that Oh pay a fine of around $6,000, likely concluding any issues that would have caused any problems with Oh coming to Major League Baseball.
Joe Schwarz wrote earlier today on Oh's repertoire:
At worst, Oh will give manager Mike Matheny another middle relief option so that he does not have to run Seth Maness into the ground (Maness has the 10th most innings as a reliever since 2013). At best, Oh could serve as a set-up man to Rosenthal, and similar to what Kevin Siegrist did last year, he could fill in for some save opportunities as well (Siegrist notched six saves of his own in 2015).
Strengthening the bullpen has been a theme for contenders this offseason after the Royals made their second straight World Series on the strength of a deep bullpen. Part of the beauty of the Royals bullpen has been their ability to be great without spending a lot to get there. Teams wishing to duplicate that trait tend to have to pay significantly more to copy the first adopters. The Red Sox paid heavily to get Craig Kimbrel. The Astros paid heavily to get Ken Giles. The Yankees cost to acquire Aroldis Chapman comes with considerable uncertainty considering the reported domestic violence.
The Cardinals have done their best to build a better bullpen, but paying a great deal for arms who contribute limited innings and generally provide inconsistent performance from year to year is not wise. The Cardinals still have Trevor Rosenthal for the end of games with Kevin Siegrist the presumed setup man. Adding Oh to Seth Maness and Jonathan Broxton gives Mike Matheny more trusted options which can hopefully prevent wearing out the bullpen.
The bullpen did get just a bit more crowded. Assuming Tyler Lyons gets a spot there given he is out of options, that gives gives six spots to Rosenthal, Siegrist, Oh, Maness, Broxton, and Lyons. If Jordan Walden is healthy, then that is the Cardinals bullpen for the start of next year. While John Mozeliak did indicate Walden would be throwing come spring training, it does not appear they expect him to return to form.
Even without Walden, that leaves just one spot for the other five arms on the 40-man: Tim Cooney, Marco Gonzales, Jayson Aquino, Sam Tuivailala, Miguel Socolovich, Dean Kiekhefer, Mitch Harris, and Rule 5 pick Matt Bowman, who needs to stay on the 25-man roster all year long or be offered back to the New York Mets. Cooney and Gonzales seem a good bet to stay in Triple-A to be ready to start should they be needed, but that last spot should have some decent competition.
The 40-man roster now stands at 39 players, leaving one more spot remaining, although once the season starts, Lance Lynn can be placed on 60-day disabled list and free up another spot.