Charlie Barnes, 28, is weighing a return to Major League Baseball (MLB) and re-signing with the Lotte Giants. Lotte is taking a “two-track” approach.
“Both Barnes and Aaron Wilkerson are stable pitchers who have proven themselves in Korea. Our priority is to re-sign them,” he said. Lotte has already retained Wilkerson for $950,000 (1.25 billion won). It was the first re-signing of a foreign pitcher in the offseason.
Re-signing Barnes is still in the works. Lotte has placed Barnes on the pending list, categorizing him as an eligible player for re-signing. In his first two seasons in a Lotte uniform in 2022, Barnes went 23-22 with a 3.46 ERA in 61 games. In that span, he threw 356 and two-thirds innings, the second-most in the KBO. He struck out just one fewer batter than KT Wiz’s Ko Young-pyo, who threw the most innings, 357.굿모닝토토 도메인
Lotte, who signed him to a $1.25 million deal a year ago, is open to a modest raise next season and a contract through 2024. The two sides have already come to an agreement on the total.
The biggest stumbling block is Barnes’ willingness to come to the United States. MLB Network reporter John Morosi recently reported that “Lotte is willing to re-sign Barnes, and several MLB teams are interested in signing him. Barnes is currently a free agent.”
Barnes has received interest from both American and Japanese professional baseball organizations throughout this season. He wants to play on the biggest stage. He made his big league debut in 2021, going 0-3 with a 5.92 ERA in nine games (eight starts). He then chose to travel to South Korea during the MLB lockout.
Barnes’ representatives told the Lotte organization, “We’ll see what offers come in at the MLB Winter Meetings.” If he receives a favorable offer, he could be on his way to the big leagues. He’s in his 20s and in his prime, and he’s a left-handed pitcher. Although a big contract is unlikely, there are many variables considering the pitching shortage in MLB.
A Lotte team official said, “Barnes could be evaluated as a five- or six-starter (depending on the MLB team’s situation). A team that needs a backup starting pitcher would be interested in him. He might even receive an invitation to spring training.” It’s a bit of a long shot.
There’s also the fact that Barnes’ wife (Sydney Barnes) is expecting their second child in May or June of next year. Their first daughter was born in the U.S. in spring 2021 and moved to South Korea the following year.
Even if Barnes signs with an MLB team, he is not guaranteed to stay in the big leagues. He would have to fight off stiff competition in the U.S., and it might be financially beneficial for him to sign with Lotte. “There are a lot of factors involved. We can’t just look at Barnes, so we’re taking a ‘two-track’ approach to signing new foreign players.”