By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Dec. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korean baseball club Doosan Bears announced Wednesday they've parted ways with their MVP-winning ace Josh Lindblom, allowing the American right-hander to pursue a return to the majors.
The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club said they'd hoped to re-sign Lindblom for his third season with the club but ultimately decided to relinquish their reserve rights on the pitcher so he could sign elsewhere with no restrictions.
If the Bears had chosen to retain their rights on Lindblom, he wouldn't have been able to sign with another KBO club for five years without the Bears' consent under the KBO's reserve clause.
Lindblom, 32, was voted the 2019 regular season MVP last month after going 20-3 with a 2.50 ERA. The Bears said Lindblom attracted "significant interests" from Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in Japan after the 2019 season. They added that they decided to free Lindblom out of respect to his contribution to the team over the past two years.
In 2019, Lindblom was the KBO's only 20-game winner, and he also led the league in strikeouts (189) and innings pitched (194 2/3).
He finished second in ERA to come one category shy of winning the pitching Triple Crown. Lindblom was the Game 1 starter of the Korean Series in October, as the Bears swept the Kiwoom Heroes for their third championship in five years.
In 2018, with offensive numbers across the KBO at an all-time high, Lindblom won the ERA title with 2.88. He was the only pitcher with a sub-3.00 ERA that season.
Lindblom, a native of Lafayette, Indiana, was drafted by the Houston Astros in the third round in 2005 out of high school, but chose to attend college instead of signing with them. Three years later, the Los Angeles Dodgers selected Lindblom in the second round of the draft out of Purdue University.
Lindblom made his big league debut with the Dodgers in 2011 and ended up making 110 major league appearances with four clubs before joining the KBO's Lotte Giants for the 2015 season.
He returned to the U.S. briefly in 2017 and pitched in four games for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He rejoined the Giants in July that year.
Lindblom then signed with the Bears in December 2017 and enjoyed a dominant two-year stretch.
Reports coming out of the U.S. say the Dodgers, the team that drafted Lindblom in 2008, are interested in bringing back the right-hander, with the Toronto Blue Jays also said to be in the mix.