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Ex-Marlins reliever Drew Rucinski signs with Korea’s NC Dinos

Brought here on a minor league deal, Rucinski actually performed better than most members of the Marlins bullpen in 2018.

Didn’t get the chance to give him a proper goodbye hug
Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

Forgive me for being late on this. The NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) announced way back on Nov. 30 that they had signed right-hander Drew Rucinski to a $1 million deal for the 2019 season. The man himself didn’t acknowledge it publicly until Wednesday night:

The KBO has a $1 million maximum to offer first-year foreign players, so this was the most lucrative deal available to Rucinski. He gets a $200,000 signing bonus and can also earn $200,000 in performance bonuses.

Rucinski split last season between Triple-A New Orleans and the major league club. In Miami, he contributed 35 13 innings of serviceable 4.33 ERA/3.81 FIP/4.76 xFIP pitching. The Marlins outrighted him off their 40-man roster earlier this offseason, and he understandably elected free agency.

If you feel the Dinos might be overpaying a bit, keep in mind that Rucinski will be used in their rotation. The majority of his career minor league appearances—83 of 156—have been as a starter.

Turning 30 years old later this month, Rucinski went undrafted out of The Ohio State University. He then had to grind through parts of three seasons in the independent Frontier League to earn a real opportunity in the high minors. He passed through the Indians, Angels, Cubs and Twins organizations at various points. So this is a nice milestone for him—receiving his highest salary yet, and performing well in an expanded role could be a springboard to MLB riches, as was the case with new Diamondbacks right-hander Merrill Kelly.

Good luck, Drew!