The Kiwoom Heroes have signed a right-hander Ariel Jurado to a one-year contract worth $850K in guaranteed salary, with another $150K available in incentives. (Hat tip to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net.) After nine seasons in affiliated North American baseball, Jurado will try to jumpstart his career in the Korea Baseball Organization.
It was almost exactly ten years ago that Jurado began his pro career as an international signing for the Rangers, and he worked away in the farm system before finally making his MLB debut in 2018. Baseball Prospectus even ranked Jurado as the 72nd-best prospect in the sport prior to the 2017 season, although once Jurado made it to the Show, he posted only a 5.97 ERA over 181 innings with the Rangers and Mets from 2018-20. The Mets acquired the righty from Texas in August 2020, then non-tendered him after the season.
Jurado’s career was then put on hold due to Tommy John surgery, and he missed the entire 2021 season in recovery. Catching on with the Twins on a minor league deal last winter, Jurado posted a 3.54 ERA over 53 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level in 2022, with his typical low-strikeout (21.5%) and grounder-heavy (51.8% ) approach.
Jurado worked as both a starter and long reliever with Triple-A St. Paul, with most of his starts coming later in the season after he had gotten more stretched out after his long layoff. It’s fair to assume he will look to keep starting in the KBO League, and hope to pitch well for the Heroes and perhaps attract future attention from Major League scouts. Jurado doesn’t even turn 27 until January, so there’s plenty of time for him to rebuild some value in South Korea and then explore a potential move back to the big leagues.