The Texas Rangers have a former pitcher who is headed to Korea to pitch in 2019, and another former pitcher who is apparently heading back to the United States.
Eddie Butler, the former first round pick who was acquired from the Chicago Cubs in the Cole Hamels trade, and who was then waived a few weeks ago, cleared waivers and took free agency, has reportedly agreed to a one year, $1 million deal with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization. The 27 year old Butler will presumably get the opportunity to start regularly there.
Meanwhile, Nick Martinez, the 28 year old righthander who spent time in the majors with the Rangers from 2014-17, is, according to Ken Rosenthal, “drawing major league interest” after spending 2018 pitching with the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japanese League. Martinez put up a 3.51 ERA in 161 innings over 25 starts, though with just 93 Ks against 40 walks and with 16 home runs allowed.
Of course, the big news regarding pitchers and Asia involves lefthanded pitcher Yusei Kikuchi, a 27 year old who has pitched with the Seibu Lions for the past eight years, and who has officially been posted as of this morning. All thirty teams can negotiate with Kikuchi, who either has to be signed, with the posting fee paid, by January 2, 2019, or else return to Seibu for 2019. With the Rangers in the market for starting pitching and having scouted Japan extensively, expect them to be in on Kikuchi this month.