Whenever a new international free agent hits the market from one of the professional leagues around the world, the Red Sox are involved in some way, even if only in passing. So it should perhaps come as no surprise that Pete Abraham says they're interested in Korean lefty Hyeon-jong Yang, who is set to hit the market this coming Monday.
Except that it should be surprising. Just as surprising as the fact that Hyeon-jong Yang is making the jump to Major League Baseball in the first place because, frankly, he doesn't look all that good.
It's the sort of thing we take for granted in situations like this. If a player is going to attempt to compete at the highest level in the world--and surely Major League Baseball is that--then it stands to reason that they would be strong competitors in the league they're coming from. They don't have to be the best to make it in the MLB, but generally you can expect any player's performance to tick down noticeably after making the jump, so they'd better be coming from some solid foundation.
It's not that Hyeon-jong Yang has nothing to recommend him. As a lefty who can throw 95 (depending on who you ask), there will always be some team interested in tinkering with his arm. But the results simply aren't there. In 2014, playing for the Kia Tigers, Yang managed a pedestrian 4.25 ERA with an ugly 4.0 BB/9 detracting heavily from his 8.6 K/9. And that's frankly one of the better years Yang has produced over the course of his career, for which he has a 4.33 ERA, 7.7 K/9, and 4.7 BB/9 to show.
If Yang is available for cheap, and can be stashed in the minors, maybe there's something to be said for trying to turn him into a hard-throwing lefty reliever. God knows few people saw Andrew Miller turning into a marquee free agent reliever back when the Sox picked him up off the garbage heap in 2011.
As far as Abraham's suggestion that Yang "could be a cost-effective mid-rotation alternative", however, that seems like quite the stretch. There's little reason to believe Yang can contribute much of anything to a major league team in 2015, and the Red Sox have more than enough cheap lottery ticket arms in their system to begin with.