Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon has emerged as a candidate to join the Texas Rangers’ pitching staff.
Talks could begin heating up in the coming days, as Yoon is scheduled to throw a bullpen session in front of Rangers’ brass Tuesday at the team’s Surprise, Ariz., complex, according to a source.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels stuck to his policy of not discussing free agents when asked about Yoon.
Yoon, 27, has pitched in starting and relief roles in the Korea Baseball Organization. He had a 4.00 ERA with 76 strikeouts in 88 innings over 30 appearances, including 11 starts, for the Kia Tigers last season. Yoon reportedly dealt with a shoulder injury last season, although not much is known about it.
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The Rangers would likely view Yoon as a rotation candidate to help fill the void left by Derek Holland, who underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee last month and is likely out until at least the All-Star break.
Yoon throws four pitches and is known to have an effective changeup and slider. His fastball sits in the 91 mph range.
The Rangers aren’t alone in the pursuit of Yoon, a Scott Boras client who is being targeted by at least five other teams. He is an attractive pitcher on the market for a variety of reasons, including the signing team not forfeiting a draft pick and not having to pay a posting fee.
Yoon also got a boost by the success had by fellow Korean Hyun-jin Ryu with the Dodgers last season. Ryu, a left-hander, went 14-8 with a 3.00 ERA over 30 starts.
Bard, Galarraga signed
The Rangers announced signing right-handed reliever Daniel Bard to a minor league contract with an invitation to big-league camp on Monday afternoon. They have also reached a minor league deal with right-hander Armando Galarraga, who will report to minor league camp.
Bard, 28, had been a dominant setup reliever with the Boston Red Sox from 2009-11 but struggled when moved into a starting role in 2012. Bard then made only two appearances last season in an injury-riddled year.
He underwent surgery on Jan. 2 to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome, which involves pain in the neck and shoulder, numbness of the fingers and a weak grip. He isn’t expected to be ready until April or May.
Galarraga, 32, returns to the organization where he made his big-league debut in 2007. After his stint with Texas, he went to Detroit from 2008-10, Arizona in 2011 and Houston in 2012. He spent last season in the Cincinnati and Colorado organizations.
Galarraga is best known for his near-perfect game in 2010 when an umpire missed a call at first base on what should have been the final out.
The Rangers made a couple other minor transactions. They signed Taiwan native Che-Hsuan Lin to a minor league deal with intentions of converting the outfielder into a pitcher. And they released right-hander Tyler Tufts, a 2008 draft pick out of Indiana University who spent last season at Double A Frisco.
Rougned Odor, the Rangers’ top prospect, has been added to the big-league spring training roster.
Odor, a Venezuelan second baseman who turned 20 on Monday, was the 2013 Rangers minor league player of the year. He combined to hit .305 with 41 doubles, six triples, 11 home runs and 78 RBIs over 130 games at High A Myrtle Beach and Double A Frisco. He also had a career-high 32 steals.
The Rangers now have 58 players scheduled to report to big-league camp in Surprise, Ariz., with the first full-squad workout scheduled Feb. 20.
Pitch hits Chirinos
Venezuelan catcher Robinson Chirinos, who had three stints with the Rangers last season, was hit on the little finger of his left hand by a pitch during a Caribbean Series game on Sunday. X-rays were negative and it’s not considered a serious injury.