9. Kwang Hyun Kim signing (2019)
Spare a thought for Kwang Hyun Kim, an arrival from the KBO in South Korea who had the misfortune of playing his first year during the shortened COVID-19 season in 2020 while trying to acclimate to a new league and culture.
The Cardinals signed the 31-year-old Kim to a two-year contract worth $8 million in 2020, and to Kim's credit, he performed excellently and did well to shore up a questionable rotation. In his first season in the major leagues, he had a 1.62 ERA in 39 innings.
The Cardinals hoped for more of the same in 2021, but Kim wasn't as effective, pitching to a 3.46 ERA in 106.2 innings. The Cardinals acquired some pitching reinforcements along the way in the form of Jon Lester and J.A. Happ, which pushed Kim to a bullpen role in September.
If it weren't for the lockout to begin the 2022 season, Kim likely would have remained in the major leagues and signed somewhere as a free agent, but since free agents were forbidden to communicate with teams during the lockout, Kim decided to return to South Korea.
Kim's saga in the major leagues was brief but successful, and his presence did a lot to fix a rotation that lacked stability. His signing was among the front office's most successful forays into the Asian market, even if circumstances beyond Kim's control prevented him from playing in the major leagues as long as he would have preferred.