NASHVILLE, Tennessee -- Right-hander Erick Fedde and the Chicago White Sox agreed on a two-year, $15 million contract, sources told ESPN on Tuesday, bringing the 30-year-old back into Major League Baseball after he won the MVP of the Korea Baseball Organization in his lone season overseas.
Fedde, a former first-round pick who spent six seasons with the Washington Nationals, joined the NC Dinos in 2023 and went 20-6 with a 2.00 ERA and 209 strikeouts against 35 walks in 180.1 innings. Using a retooled slider that evaluators said had improved drastically, Fedde dominated the KBO and returned stateside with a drastically different market than last year.
The Nationals nontendered Fedde last year, leaving him a free agent following a big league career in which he went 21-33 with a 5.41 ERA. At one point a top-100 prospect, Fedde's four-pitch mix of sinker, slider, cutter and changeup had not translated to major league success.
In Korea, he relied nearly as much on his slider as he did his fastball -- and it led to a breakout season. He added more than 3 mph to the slider, and its depth turned it into a legitimate out pitch after his final season with the Nationals in which he averaged just 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
Teams have found success with players returning from the KBO, with the Arizona Diamondbacks' Merrill Kelly the foremost example. Following four seasons with SK Wyverns, Kelly signed a four-year, $14.5 million contract. In April 2022, Kelly received a two-year, $18 million extension and thrived this postseason, throwing seven brilliant innings in Game 2 of the World Series.
Chicago's roster overhaul, helmed by new general manager Chris Getz, is just beginning. The White Sox dealt reliever Aaron Bummer to the Atlanta Braves for a five-player package that included 26-year-old Michael Soroka and 25-year-old Jared Shuster, both of whom are expected to slot into the rotation alongside Fedde. Teams expect the White Sox to trade ace Dylan Cease as they attempt to rebuild an organization with limited depth but a pair of extremely well-regarded prospects in shortstop Colson Montgomery and left-handed starter Noah Schultz.
The White Sox have been active in the free agent market beyond Fedde and could pursue further rotation help there -- where the market for backend starters has topped $10 million a year -- or via a Cease trade. The White Sox are unlikely to trade centerfielder Luis Robert Jr., though they have been open to listening to offers for the 26-year-old. They also signed shortstop Paul DeJong to a one-year, $1.75 million contract.