The NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization kicked off the New Year by announcing that they’ve re-signed outfielder Aaron Altherr and right-hander Drew Rucinski to new one-year contracts for the 2021 season. Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net tweets that Altherr’s deal comes with a $1.1MM salary and another $100K available via incentives, while Rucinski will be paid $1.3MM with up to $200K of incentives.
Altherr, 30 next month, had some success with the Phillies in 2015 and 2017 but never fully established himself as a big league regular. By 2019, he was designated for assignment multiple times and split the season between three clubs, going just 5-for-61 at the MLB level.
It was a different story in South Korea for Altherr. He mashed opposing pitching at a .278/.352/.541 clip and belted 31 home runs, 20 doubles and seven triples to go along with 22 steals in 25 tries. Altherr was 27 percent better than a league-average hitter, by measure of wRC+, so it’s not a surprise that the KBO-champion Dinos sought to bring him back for a return effort.
Rucinski, who turned 32 just two days ago, will return for a third season with the Dinos. The former Indians and Angels farmhand made it to the Majors as an undrafted free agent, logging a combined 54 innings between the Halos, Twins and Marlins from 2014-18 — albeit without much success. He’s found a home with the Dinos, however, pitching to an identical 3.05 ERA in each of his first two seasons there. Rucinski racked up 183 innings in 2020, averaging 8.2 strikeouts and 2.8 walks per nine frames along the way.