Yang Hyeon-jong looks set to rejoin the Kia Tigers

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Yang Hyeon-jong looks set to rejoin the Kia Tigers

Yang Hyeon-jong arrives at Incheon International Airport on Oct. 5 [YONHAP]

Yang Hyeon-jong arrives at Incheon International Airport on Oct. 5 [YONHAP]

 
Yang Hyeon-jong looks set to rejoin the Kia Tigers after his short-lived U.S. career ended in free agency at the end of the season.
 
The Tigers told reporters on Wednesday that they are currently in talks with Yang, who played his entire KBO career with the Gwangju club. 
 
Yang joined the Texas Rangers on a minor league contract this season. He had a rollercoaster year shuttling between the majors and minors in the Rangers farm system. Yang was called up in late April and then sent down again in June after a difficult few starts.
 
He bounced back up again in late August, appearing in a single game before being sent down again, only to return within 24 hours when MLB rosters were expanded from 26 to 28 players.
 
Yang appeared in three games during his last stint and was sent down again in the middle of September. His 12 major league appearances leave him with a 5.60 ERA, three losses and an expired one-year contract.
 
In Korea, Yang was a very different caliber player. After making his first appearance with the Tigers in 2007, Yang has appeared in 425 games across 14 seasons, with a 3.83 career ERA and 147 wins to his name.
 
Yang was posted by the Tigers after the 2014 season but couldn't land a major deal then. 
 
In each of the ensuing six seasons since deciding to stay with the Tigers, Yang has thrown at least 170 innings. In that span, the workhorse left-hander leads all KBO pitchers with 85 wins, 10 complete games, 925 strikeouts and 1,119 and one-third innings pitched.
 
It was only in 2017 that Yang was voted the regular season MVP here, thanks to a 20-6 record and a 3.44 ERA. He earned the Korean Series MVP award in 2017 by leading the Tigers to their first championship in eight years. Yang pitched a complete game shutout and saved the clinching game in that series.
 
Yang was even better in 2019, when he was 16-8 with a 2.29 ERA in 29 starts while giving up only six home runs in 184 and two-thirds innings.
 
Yang was quieter in the 2020 season, with 11 wins and 10 losses in 31 starts with a 4.70 ERA. Despite a tough couple of years, Tigers fans will be excited to have the talismanic starter back.

BY JIM BULLEY [jim.bulley@joongang.co.kr]
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