The Hanwha Eagles signed former major leaguer Brian O’Grady on Wednesday, making the LG Twins the only team in the Korean Baseball Organization without an outfielder next season.
It’s not for lack of trying.
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.
The Twins will now become the last KBO team to sign a foreign hitter in 2023.
It was the same last winter. The Twins announced the acquisition of Rio Ruiz on Dec. 28. Their Seoul rivals, the Doosan Bears, announced the return of Jose Miguel Fernandez in January, but the deal was delayed until the club resolved the Cuban player’s passport issue. just have to wait.
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 signed Almonte, who has played 455 major league games, to an $800,000 contract and hoped it would 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, RBIs and bases-loaded slugging. Chae averaged 16 home runs and 89 RBIs with an .829 OPS during that span, and the Twins would be happy to bring in a player who matches those numbers. (Yonhap)