Charlie Barnes was a promising pitcher who could be a major leaguer again
Two years ago, Charlie Barnes, 28, of the Lotte Giants, was a promising pitcher who could be a major leaguer again.
Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the fourth round of the 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Barnes worked his way up through the minor leagues to reach the major leagues in 2021. In nine games (eight starts) and 38 innings pitched in 2021 for Minnesota, Barnes went 3-0 with a 5.92 ERA. It wasn’t a great record, but it wasn’t uncompetitive as a major leaguer either. It was a 40-man roster spot, and Barnes was in a position to compete if he wanted to.
But the big story in baseball at the time was the labor agreement renewal. Negotiations stalled for most of the year, and the failure to reach a new agreement led to a lockout on December 2. All players were locked out of team training facilities and all contract negotiations were suspended. While the big-name players rushed to sign contracts just before the lockout, players at the bottom of the 40-man roster, like Barnes, were left behind. Barnes was left without a future.
In the end, Barnes opted to go to South Korea.
Barnes signed for a relatively low total of $610,000 ($150,000 signing bonus and $460,000 salary). With a $1 million cap on new foreign players, Minnesota didn’t have a lot of money to give Barnes, except for a transfer fee to be paid to the club. As evidenced by the modest transfer fee of about $390,000, Minnesota saw Barnes as a powerhouse, and Lotte was a convert.
“I believed that coming to Korea was a better opportunity for me at this point in my career,” Barnes said at the time, adding, “I thought it would be a better option for my wife and daughter to come to Korea at this time.” “I knew that a shutdown could come at any moment. I’m glad I came to Korea and didn’t experience a shutdown. I’m just waiting for the opening game of the KBO,” indirectly implying that the shutdown was a factor in his decision to come to Korea.
Barnes has been in the KBO for two years now.
At the start of last year’s season, he showed flashes of brilliance while pitching in a four-day rotation. However, 카지노사이트킴 his health quickly deteriorated and his season ended prematurely. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say that he had a solid season. In 31 games and 186⅔ innings, he went 12-12 with a 3.62 ERA. He showed off his innings-eating ability.
This year, Lotte re-signed Barnes for a total of $1.25 million ($350,000 signing bonus, $850,000 salary, $50,000 incentive). No other foreign player has had a worse second half than Barnes. His ups and downs in the first half of the year embarrassed Lotte, and Barnes himself spent the first half of the year struggling.
The change in pitching form, which Barnes had been working on for the past year, threw her off balance and led to her ups and downs. But once he found his form, he was unstoppable. Eric Peddy (NC) dominated the league this season, but in the second half of the year, Barnes was the pitcher who took the league by storm. Barnes was the ace of the second half, going 6-4 with a 2.05 ERA (23 earned runs in 87⅔ innings), 75 strikeouts, 25 walks, and 11 quality starts in 14 games.
Aside from a brief stint in the first half, Barnes was a reliable pitcher.
As a left-handed pitcher, it’s hard to find a better resource. Unsurprisingly, Lotte planned to keep Barnes around for a third straight year and included him on the disabled list. The will to re-sign is strong.
The team has already re-signed Aaron Wilkerson, who paired with Barnes as a one-two punch in the second half, early. They locked him up for a total of $950,000 ($150,000 signing bonus, $600,000 salary, $200,000 incentive). It’s not a huge sample size, but it’s a reasonable amount of money for a foreign pitcher who went 7-2 with a 2.26 ERA in 13 starts in the second half of the season for less than $1 million.
The problem is Barnes. Barnes has drawn interest from the United States and Japan throughout the season. More recently, the interest from Major League Baseball seems to have grown. John Morosi, a leading source on the major league transfer market, posted on social media on Wednesday (July 3), “Former Minnesota Twins left-hander Charlie Barnes is a free agent after spending two seasons with the Lotte Giants of the KBO. He posted a 3.28 ERA in 30 starts,” explaining, “Lotte is understood to be pushing hard to re-sign Barnes, but since he is an official free agent, we expect major league teams to show interest. The implication is that there is not much interest from the major leagues.
In fact, it’s Barnes’ commitment to Major League Baseball that’s keeping him from making a deal.
The lockout two years ago ended his dream of becoming a major league starter, so he’ll want to make sure he doesn’t miss out on this opportunity. The market is also in Barnes’ favor.
This year’s major league free agency market is a starting pitcher famine. Outside of Yoshinobu Yamamoto, a pitcher who has dominated in Japan and is looking to break into the U.S., and Blake Snell, who went 14-9 with a 2.25 ERA in 32 games this year and won the National League Cy Young Award, there are no “S” players.
Shohei Ohtani is a two-way player, but elbow surgery prevents him from pitching immediately next year, and starter Aaron Nola, who went 12-9 with a 4.46 ERA this year and 90 career wins, signed a seven-year, $172 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Sonny Gray, who is 98-85 with a 3.47 ERA in 279 career games, signed a three-year, $75 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. Luis Severino, who won 54 games in his career but has struggled recently with an elbow injury and is just 4-8 with a 6.65 ERA in 19 starts this year, signed a one-year, $13 million deal with the New York Mets. The starting free agent market has been inflationary this winter. Barnes will get his chance after the major players are done with their contracts, but in the current market, he should be able to get a deal with a lot of guarantees.
First and foremost, Barnes has a direct comparison
Brooks Reilly (New York Mets), a former Lotte player who made it to the major leagues. Reilly was Lotte’s longest-serving foreign pitcher, playing five seasons from 2015 to 2019. He signed a minor contract with the Cincinnati Reds in 2020, but was released shortly thereafter. However, he has since established himself as a top-notch setup man, bouncing from the Houston Astros, Tampa Bay Rays, and finally the New York Mets this year. In 66 games for the Mets this year, he has a 1-2 record, three saves, 25 holds, and a 2.80 ERA.
Known for his dominance against left-handers in the KBO, earning him the title of “lefty”, Railly refined his changeup in the KBO and learned how to use it against right-handers. He had a lot of success and growth in the KBO. He’s since refined his sweeper slider and has continued to thrive in the major leagues, even with the three-hitter rule. If Barnes does make it to the majors, he’ll likely follow a similar career path to Reilly.
With Barnes’ chances of making it to the major leagues now more likely than ever,
Lotte will need to improve the odds of their Plan B. One such Plan B is Dylan Peters, 31, who pitched for the Yakult Swallows of Nippon Professional Baseball this year. Peters went 6-5 with a 3.22 ERA (36 earned runs in 100⅔ innings) in 18 games this year. His fastball has topped out at 153 mph in Nippon Professional Baseball this year, and his average velocity is around 145 mph. However, after suffering a lower body injury in September, he traveled to the United States for a second opinion during the season. His last appearance was on September 2, and the Yakult failed to re-sign him. He also had elbow issues in the major leagues.
Lotte’s Plan A is to re-sign the proven Barnes. However, the odds of that happening are diminishing as time goes on. The team can’t stop him from returning to the dream stage he failed to achieve two years ago. Should Lotte go ahead and part ways with Barnes?