The San Diego Padres added another bullpen arm Wednesday, signing star Korean reliever Woo-Suk Go to a two-year contract with a mutual option in 2026.
Go’s deal is worth $4.5 million in guaranteed money, a source told Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The contract also includes several escalator clauses based on games pitched and games finished that could increase his annual salary by as much as $500,000, according to The Associated Press.
The Padres cannot option Go to the minors without his consent, The Associated Press reports.
Go, who was posted for MLB teams by the Korea Baseball Organization’s LG Twins in December, flew to the United States on Wednesday to finalize his deal with the Padres, the Twins told Yoo Jee-ho of Yonhap News. The Twins green-lighted his move “out of respect for the player’s wishes.”
Per the MLB-KBO posting agreement, San Diego will pay LG a fee worth 20% of his total contract because the contract is worth less than $25 million.
Go, 25, heads to the majors after a dominant run as one of the KBO’s best closers. Over his seven-year career with the Twins, he posted a 3.18 ERA and 1.27 WHIP along with 401 strikeouts and 139 saves. His career-high 42 saves in 2022 also led the KBO during that season.
Although he was limited to 44 innings this past year, Go’s 12.1 K/9 rate in 2023 was a career high. He also saved 15 games to help lead the Twins to the KBO’s best regular-season record and their first league championship in 29 years.
Go was among the hardest throwers in the KBO, sporting a fastball that sits in the 93-95 mph range and tops out at 98 mph, according to FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen. His arsenal also includes a cutter in the low 90s and a secondary curveball with plenty of break. However, he does issue his share of walks, averaging 4.0 BB/9 over his career.
Go likely profiles as more of a middle reliever in the majors, although he could get some chances to close in San Diego. Go, Robert Suarez, and Yuki Matsui, the former star NPB closer who signed a five-year deal with the Padres in December, are all potential ninth-inning options for the team.
He joins a Padres bullpen that will look very different in 2024. The team has already lost Nick Martinez and Luis García to free agency, while All-Star Josh Hader is also poised to sign elsewhere. The Padres already made several other moves to address the bullpen, including signing Matsui and trading for Enyel De Los Santos.
Go becomes the second KBO star to jump to the majors this offseason after outfielder Jung Hoo Lee – who is Go’s brother-in-law – signed a six-year, $113-million deal with the San Francisco Giants.