Padres have 2-year deal with Korean closer Go

January 3rd, 2024

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres are getting closer to filling out their 2024 bullpen.

San Diego signed Korean reliever Woo-Suk Go to a two-year deal with a mutual option for 2026, the club announced on Wednesday. The deal is expected to be worth $4.5 million, a source told's Mark Feinsand. The Padres did not confirm the terms.

The 25-year-old right-hander should help solidify a bullpen that has already added Japanese left-hander Yuki Matsui this winter. Both are expected to be in the mix for back-end roles -- much needed additions after Josh Hader, Nick Martinez and Luis García each hit the free-agent market this winter.

What are the Padres getting?

In seven seasons pitching for the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization, Go has posted a 3.18 ERA with 139 saves. He's notched 401 strikeouts in 368 1/3 innings.

A hard-throwing, 5-foot-11 right-hander, Go sports a fastball in the mid-90s that can touch 98. He pairs it with multiple breaking pitches. Go’s control is generally solid, though his walk rate ticked up to 11.6 percent in his 44 innings last season.

Because Go has played fewer than nine seasons in the KBO, the Padres would need to pay a release fee to the Twins to sign him.

Go is the brother-in-law of center fielder Jung Hoo Lee, whom the Padres pursued earlier this winter before he eventually signed a six-year, $113 million deal with the Giants.

How does Go fit?

Two weeks ago, after the Padres signed Matsui, general manager A.J. Preller noted that Matsui would pitch "somewhere at the back part of the game," then added that he'd need to "see what other options come up this offseason."

Go looks to be one of those other options. Along with right-hander Robert Suarez, the Padres could be heading for a three-player battle for their closer role.

But whoever emerges at the back end of their bullpen, all three are likely to pitch high-leverage innings. Steven Wilson, Tom Cosgrove and Enyel De Los Santos are also in the mix for set-up roles, and the Padres will have a group of other pitchers they've acquired this winter vying for the final place or two in the 'pen.

What's next?

With Go in the fold, the Padres' bullpen is close to complete. Sure, they're still looking to add another set-up arm or two. Bullpens are volatile by nature, and Preller has reiterated his belief that strength in numbers is the best way to reduce that volatility.

So another bullpen addition might be coming. But it's no longer the top priority, or even the top pitching priority. The Padres still need another starter (at least) to fill out their rotation.

But the biggest hole on their roster remains in the outfield. Fernando Tatis Jr. is the only returning starter, with Juan Soto and Trent Grisham dealt to the Yankees. On the 40-man roster, Tatis is joined only by career backup José Azocar -- though No. 13 prospect Jakob Marsee, the Arizona Fall League MVP, will get a chance to compete for a role this spring.

In any case, with another addition to their bullpen now finalized, rotation and outfield are their clear remaining targets.