MILWAUKEE (AP) — Josh Lindblom’s journey to the Milwaukee Brewers included a detour or two through South Korea.
“I haven’t taken the most direct route to sitting here,” Lindblom said Monday after the Brewers finalized a three-year contract for $9,125,000.
A 32-year-old right-hander, Lindbloom was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second round of the 2008 amateur draft, he made six starts and 108 relief appearances from 2011-14 for the Dodgers, Philadelphia, Texas and Oakland. He signed with South Korea’s Lotte Giants ahead of the 2015 season, returned to the major leagues with Pittsburgh and had four relief outings in 2017, then signed with South Korea’s Doosan Bears.
He went 35-7 in two seasons with a 2.68 ERA, including 20-3 with a 2.50 ERA and 0.997 WHIP in 30 starts this year.
“Over the last couple of years, Josh has been as dominant as any pitcher in the world,” Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said. “He has performed at an exceptionally high level and we believe that many of the skills that have allowed him to perform at that high level will translate very well.”
He earned consecutive Choi Dong-Won Awards, South Korea’s equivalent of a Cy Young, and this year’s league Most Valuable Player.
“That’s a sign of a really good player who reached a really high level but wasn’t satisfied so he pushed himself a little bit further,” Stearns said. “Generally, that indicates that the trend will continue.”
Lindblom is the third starter acquired this offseason by the Brewers, who signed free agent left-hander Brett Anderson to a $5 million, one-year deal and obtained lefty Eric Lauer from San Diego in a trade. They join holdovers Brandon Woodruff and Adrian Houser in Milwaukee’s projected rotation. Left-hander Brent Suter and young right-handers Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta are expected to complete for spots and provide depth.
Lindblom took a similar path as Eric Thames to the Brewers.
Thames spent three seasons in South Korea with NC Dinos, then signed with the Brewers ahead of the 2017 season. He hit 31 homers for Milwaukee in 2017, then tailed off to 16 in 2018 and 25 this year before becoming a free agent.