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Dinos sign Rucinski from Marlins

Dec 01,2018
Drew Rucinski of the Miami Marlins throws a pitch in the ninth inning during a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida on Sept. 23. [AP/YONHAP]
The NC Dinos, the last-place team in Korean baseball in 2018, have signed former big league pitcher Drew Rucinski.

On Friday, the Dinos, who finished 10th in the KBO this year, said that the 29-year-old American right-hander agreed to a one-year deal worth $1 million. The contract includes a $200,000 signing bonus and an option for another $200,000.

Rucinski has appeared in 41 major league games for three franchises, most recently 32 games for the Miami Marlins in 2018. He picked up four wins and two looses with a 4.33 ERA out of the bullpen this year, and has a career record of four wins and four losses with a 5.33 ERA.

Rucinski has a minor league record of 30 wins and 36 losses with a 4.21 ERA in 156 games, including 83 starts.

The Dinos said they’re counting on Rucinski to bring some stability to their rotation. He will join the new team in spring training in Tucson, Arizona, in February.

After making the postseason for four consecutive seasons, the Dinos posted the worst record in the KBO this year at 58 wins, 85 losses and a draw. They also had the worst team ERA at 5.48 and recorded the least strikeouts with 1,010.

Each KBO team is allowed a maximum of two foreign pitchers and one position player. In 2018, the Dinos had American Logan Verrett and Taiwanese Wang Wei-Chung.

Wang, the first from his country to pitch in the KBO, picked up seven wins and 10 losses with a 4.26 ERA in 25 starts, while Verrett had six wins and 10 losses record and a 5.28 ERA in 29 starts. Rucinski’s arrival means one of them will not return in 2019.

Other than the pitchers, there have been rumors that the Dinos are in talks with catcher Christian Bethancourt.

Bethancourt is an all-around player, having played as a catcher, pitcher and outfielder. He started his minor league career at the age of 16 in 2008, then joined the Atlanta Braves in September 2013. He made his big league debut less than three weeks later.

Throughout his major league career, Bethancourt has had a .222 batting aveage with eight home runs and 46 RBIs. As a pitcher, he appeared in six games with a 10.13 ERA.

In 104 Triple A games during the 2018 season, Bethancourt had a .297 batting average with 20 home runs and 71 RBIs.

The Dinos are desperately in need of a catcher like Bethancourt. Since the Dinos’ existing catcher, Kim Tae-gun, missed the entire 2018 season after joining the Police team in the Futures League, they have yet to find a starter.

A total of six catchers were given an opportunity, but none of them were able to live up to expectations.

The Dinos seemed to be interested in the Doosan Bears’ catcher Yang Eui-ji when the free agent market began two weeks ago, but since Yang’s contract is expected to reach up to 10 billion won ($8.9 million), it is uncertain whether the Dinos can afford to spend the money.

Before signing Rucinski, the Dinos already began their investment by re-signing infielder Mo Chang-min on Wednesday.

The Dinos signed a three-year contract with Mo at 1.7 billion won, but he could actually take home as much as 2 billion won.

Although the Dinos have made it clear that no decision has yet been made, they admitted that Bethancourt is on the club’s recruiting list. If the Dinos do sign Bethancourt, he will be the KBO’s fifth foreign catcher.

BY KANG YOO-RIM, YONHAP [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]


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