Jose Lima went 89-102 with a 5.26 ERA during his Major League Baseball (MLB) career.
/ Korea Times File
By Kim Tong-hyung
The Kia Tigers are close to signing former Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star pitcher Jose Lima, according to team officials.
The Tigers, who are spending aggressively this winter in an attempt to rebound from their last-place finish in 2007, are also looking to sign former Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Wilson Valdez.
The Tigers seem fully on course to build their team around Major League castoffs, with former Tampa Bay Rays players Choi Hee-seop and Seo Jae-weong already on the roster.
The Tigers hope that Lima could be a top-of-the-rotation starter for them, pitching in front or behind Seo and young strikeout artist Yoon Suk-min.
Valdez will also give them a better defensive option at shortstop, replacing declining veteran Lee Jae-joo, who the team seems reluctant to re-sign for a multiyear deal. Valdez could also be a power threat to protect Choi and Lee Hyun-gon at the heart of the batting order, with the smallish Gwangju Stadium a haven for hitters.
It bears further watching whether Lima could contribute in a big way for the Tigers. Lima, a living definition of inconsistency, earned a trip to the All-Star game in 1999 after winning 21 games for the Houston Astros.
A year later, however, Lima surrendered a league-leading 48 home runs, which was only two short of the single-season record held by Bert Blyleven, and lost 16 games.
Lima then became a journeyman, pitching for the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, LA Dodgers and New York Mets, but failed to excel with any of those teams.
The 36-year-old's tendency to give up long balls is certainly a concern for the Tigers. Their pitchers gave up 106 home runs at Gwangju Stadium last season, the second-highest total behind the 128 home runs in Suwon Stadium.