(LEAD) Spotted LG twins hope to produce better foreign bats | Jobs Vox


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Yoo Ji Ho

SEOUL, Dec. 22 (Yonhap) — The LG Twins became the last team in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) through 2023 with the signing of former major leaguer Austin Dean on Thursday.

There was no delay after the non-participation.

The Twins were one of the first teams to fill the slot. On December 6, they announced that they had signed rookie Abraham Almonte to a one-year, $800,000 contract. But four days later, Almonte failed to pass a physical and the contract was voided.

For the second straight season, the Twins were the last team to fill the offseason’s outfield cap.

Last winter, on December 28th, the Twins announced that they would be acquiring Rio Ruiz. Their rivals in Seoul, the Doosan Bears, announced the return of Jose Miguel Fernandez in January, but the deal has been in the works for so long that the club will have to wait until the 28th of next month. The Cuban player’s passport issue has been resolved.

Given the Twins’ recent history with foreign hitters, it’s easy to see why they’re being so cautious about their next move.

Over the last decade or so, the Twins have had only three outfielders that could be considered productive: Roberto Petagine from 2008-2009, Luis Jimenez from 2015-2017 for three seasons, and Roberto Ramos from 2020-2021.

Everyone else has ranged from mild disappointment to inexplicable disaster.

After Jimenez, the Twins had eight foreign players from 2018 to 2022. Some, such as James Loney and Justin Burr, brought impressive major league credentials but didn’t pan out.

Loney declined a minor league assignment midway through the 2017 season and went to the Twins. In 23 games for the Twins, Loney, an 11-year big league veteran, hit .278 with three home runs and 12 RBIs.

Bohr, who had three 20-homer games before coming to the KBO, hit just .170 with three homers and 17 RBIs in 32 games last year when he replaced Ramos midway through the season. Boor spent most of his time in the minors.

The Twins played the 2021 postseason without an outfield bat, a highly unusual move for any club hoping to win a championship. And they had to do it again in 2022.

They started the 2022 regular season with Rio Ruiz, but the former big leaguer cut him in May after hitting .155 with six RBIs in 27 games.

Ruiz’s replacement, Robel Garcia, met the embarrassing fate of being cut in October just before the start of the season. Garcia hit .206 with four homers and 19 RBIs in 39 games, but was forced into the minors as the Twins ran out of patience.

The Twins gave Almonte, who had 455 major league games, an $800,000 contract hoping to be different. But he never played for the Twins and wore the team’s jersey to press for his signing.

The Twins will now be scrambling to find a new bat with plenty of potential options that have been snagged by other teams. For the Twins, productive outfield hitting in 2023 is even more important because they lost one of the top producers of the past five years, Chae Yun-Song, who signed with the Eagles as a free agent.

From 2018 to 2022, Chae ranked second on the Twins in batting average, hits, home runs, RBI and on-base plus slugging (OPS). Chae averaged 16 home runs and 89 RBIs in that span, hitting .829, and if Dean can match those numbers in his first season in the KBO, the Twins will be thrilled.

Dean has 11 homers and 24 RBIs in 126 career big league games with a .228 batting average and a .676 slugging percentage. In Triple-A, the 29-year-old had an .883 OPS with 45 homers and 174 RBIs in 289 games.

The Twins said they liked Dean’s combination of power and contact ability, as well as the defensive versatility he can play in the outfield and first base.


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