The St. Louis Cardinals have signed all-time Korean saves leader Seung Hwan Oh to a one-year contract for the upcoming 2016 season with a club option for 2017.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“The addition of Seung Hwan to our bullpen is significant for a number of reasons,” stated Cardinals Senior Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak. “First and foremost, Oh has been a proven performer on some of the biggest international stages and his talent and experience should significantly enhance our bullpen. We are also excited to have expanded our reach into the Asian markets with the addition of one of the premier relievers in Asian baseball history.”
Oh, 33, will join a Cardinals bullpen that already consists of closer Trevor Rosenthal, who in 2015 set the franchise’s single-season save record (48), former All-Stars Jonathan Broxton and Jordan Walden and key stalwarts Seth Maness and Kevin Siegrist.
Oh, who owns 357 career saves between Korean and Japan, pitched for the Samsung Lions of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) from 2005-13, earning Rookie of the Year honors in 2005. He was named MVP of the Korean Series in 2011 and reached 100 career saves faster (fewest games) than anyone in Korean history. Oh posted 277 career saves for Samsung, making him the career KBO all-time saves leader.
The right-handed throwing Oh, who features a rising four-seam fastball, signed a free-agent contract with the Hanshin Tigers prior to the 2014 season and was named the Top Closer in Japan and the Climax Series MVP that same year. He led the Japanese Central League in saves in both 2014 (39) and 2015 (41), setting the record for the most saves by a Korean player in Japanese League play.
In 498 career games between Korea and Japan, Oh owns a career mark of 32-20 with a 1.81 ERA, striking out 772 batters in 646.1 innings pitched.
The 5-10, 205-pound Oh was a member of the Gold medal-winning Korean Olympic team in 2008 and he was a member of the Korean team in the World Baseball Classic in 2006, 2009 and 2013.
Nicknamed the “Stone Buddha” and “Final Boss”, Oh will wear uniform no. 26 for the Cardinals.