The Cubs continue to make investments in the international market and take chances on pitchers recovering from injuries.
Chang-Yong Lim spoke with reporters on Thursday at Incheon International Airport outside Seoul, South Korea, indicating he had a deal that could be worth 5 million over two years.
The Cubs have not commented on the reports, though sources said the money has been overstated, cautioning that if they close the deal, it would be a two-year minor-league contract that contains only a small amount guaranteed. It would not come with a spot on the 40-man roster.
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For the Cubs, this is a play for 2014 as Lim recovers from elbow surgery. But that appears to be part of their broader strategy, collecting players who may be undervalued because of health concerns.
Im happy that my dream has finally come true, Lim said, according to Reuters. Im not young anymore and I wanted to do something that Ive never experienced before.
Lim who will turn 37 in June pitched seven scoreless innings for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows last season before shutting it down. He had notched 128 saves across the previous four seasons combined.
Going off Lims career numbers in Japan a 2.09 ERA with 231 strikeouts against 68 walks in 233 innings he profiles as the type of pitcher this front office values, someone who can control the zone and follow the game plan.
Lim a 5-foot-11, 175-pound right-hander pitched for Korea in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He earned a bronze medal with South Korea at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
This comes one week after introducing Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa with a press conferencephoto shoot at Wrigley Field.
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Between Lim and Fujikawa, the Cubs could have some interesting options at the back end of their bullpen by 2014. Theyre also reportedly among the teams pursuing veteran reliever Mike Adams, though their interest level is unclear. They were prepared to lose out on Jason Grilli, another bullpen arm who this week agreed to return to the Pittsburgh Pirates on a two-year, 6.75 million deal.
For now, Carlos Marmol is penciled in as the Opening Day closer, as Fujikawa gets acclimated to his new surroundings. On this level, Lim will fit in, if only because hell be on rehab assignments.
Last week, the Cubs took Hector Rondon with the second pick in the Rule 5 draft, hoping he could recapture the form that made him a good pitching prospect with the Cleveland Indians before elbow injuries wiped out most of his past three seasons.
Last month, the Cubs gave Scott Baker 5.5 million, plus incentives, on a one-year deal, even though he didnt throw a pitch for the Minnesota Twins last season, believing he will come back strong from Tommy John surgery.
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Last summer, the Cubs made Arodys Vizcaino the centerpiece of a trade deadline deal with the Atlanta Braves, flipping Paul Maholm for a prospect recovering from the Tommy John procedure, with the expectation he could join the big-league rotation at some point in 2013.
This is a creative way to address the problem team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have been staring at since taking over at Clark and Addison more than a year ago: Not enough pitching.