Kim signed Monday with the Korea Baseball Organization's SSG Landers on a four-year, $12.3 million contract, Jee-ho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency reports. After a two-year stint in the majors with the Cardinals, the 33-year-old Kim will return to his home country for what will presumably be the remainder of his playing career. Though Kim made good on the Cardinals' two-year, $8 million investment by submitting a 3.46 ERA across 145.2 innings, his advanced age and underwhelming peripheral numbers (9.1 K-BB%, 48.1 GB%) might have made it difficult for him to secure a significant commitment from an MLB team on the open market this offseason. Kim's shaky outlook along with MLB's ongoing lockout were likely motivating factors in him returning to the Landers, the team with whom he spent 13 seasons before making the jump to St. Louis.
Kim wrapped up the regular season with three straight scoreless relief appearances spanning five innings. The left-hander also picked up his seventh win of the season in the middle game of that sample, a Sept. 25 victory over the Cubs. Kim pitched exclusively out of the bullpen over his last five appearances, giving up four runs (two earned) over the 2.1 innings covering his first two relief outings in the sample before settling down in the final three. If the Cardinals are able to get past the Dodgers in Wednesday's NL Wild Card Game, Kim should have a strong chance of making it to the NLDS roster considering the considerable flexibility he offers manager Mike Shildt as a long reliever or spot starter.
Kim picked up a save after giving up two unearned runs on one hit and one walk in Tuesday's win over the Mets. The 33-year-old was called upon to protect a 7-4 lead in the bottom of the 11th inning after both Giovanny Gallegos and Alex Reyes had already pitched in the game. He gave up two runs -- partially due to an error he committed -- but converted the second save of his career. Kim was moved to the bullpen Sept. 7 and has since pitched 2.1 innings while surrendering four runs (two earned).
Kim will be available out of the bullpen starting Tuesday, Zachary Silver of MLB.com reports. Kim has struggled in his last five appearances, allowing 12 runs in 15 innings while striking out nine and walking seven. Jake Woodford will step into the rotation in his place.
Manager Mike Shildt wouldn't commit to Kim making his next turn through the St. Louis rotation in Thursday's game against the Dodgers, Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat reports. "We'll see," Shildt said, when asked if Kim or Jake Woodford would start Thursday. According to Jones, the way in which Shildt spoke about the matter would seem to point to Woodford getting the starting nod Thursday. A rotation shakeup wouldn't be surprising, considering that Kim was expected to spend the final five weeks of the season in a relief role until Jack Flaherty's (shoulder) move back to the injured list forced the Cardinals to alter those plans. Though Kim turned in a decent showing Aug. 29 in Pittsburgh in his first start in place of Flaherty, the southpaw was lit up for four runs on seven hits and a walk over 1.2 innings in Saturday's loss to the Brewers. Meanwhile, Woodford shined in long relief behind Kim, striking out five over 5.1 shutout innings to potentially earn himself a look in the rotation in the process.
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