Ex-MLB closer Kim Byung-hyun traded to hometown club in Korea

April 10, 2014
Kim Byung-hyun has yet to impress anyone in Korea. (Yonhap)

Kim Byung-hyun has yet to impress anyone in Korea. (Yonhap)

Former Major League All-Star closer Kim Byung-hyun was traded to his hometown club in the top South Korean league on Thursday.

The Nexen Heroes in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) shipped the 34-year-old submarine pitcher to the Kia Tigers, in exchange for 23-year-old left-hander Kim Young-gwang.

The Tigers are based in Gwangju, a metropolitan city about 150 miles south of Seoul. Kim was born and raised in the city, before entering a college in Seoul and signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1999.

After last appearing in the majors in 2007, Kim spent 2011 in Japan and joined the Heroes in 2012.

He made 34 appearances for the Seoul-based Heroes in 2012 and 2013, going 8-12 with a 5.44 ERA in 137 1/3 innings. He opened the 2014 season in the Futures League, the KBO’s minor league.

“I am going home, and this could be my last chance,” Kim said through a Heroes’ statement. “I hope to end my career on a successful note for my hometown club.”

Kim made his major league debut with the Diamondbacks in 1999. Over a nine-year MLB career with four clubs, Kim had 54 wins and 86 saves along with a 4.42 ERA.

Kim recorded a career-high 36 saves with a 2.04 ERA for the Diamondbacks in 2002, earning his lone All-Star selection.

He was a member of the Diamondbacks’ World Series-winning team in 2001, and won another ring with the Boston Red Sox in 2004.

Kim Young-gwang, going the other way in the trade, was drafted by the Tigers last August. He has a 0-1 record in three appearances in the minors with a 9.45 ERA in 6 2/3 innings. He has yet to pitch in a KBO game.