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NC Dinos sign free agent outfielder Son Ah-seop to 4-yr deal

New NC Dinos' outfielder Son Ah-seop poses for a photo after signing with the club on Friday, in this photo provided by the Dinos.
New NC Dinos' outfielder Son Ah-seop poses for a photo after signing with the club on Friday, in this photo provided by the Dinos.
The NC Dinos inked free agent outfielder Son Ah-seop to a four-year contract Friday, flaunting their wealth in what has been a frenetic offseason in South Korean baseball.

The Dinos said Son agreed to a 6.4 billion-won ($5.4 million) contract. The 33-year-old will make 3 billion won in total salary, 2.6 billion won in signing bonus and up to 800 million won in incentives.

Son has spent his entire 15-year career in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) with the Lotte Giants, and will now take his talent from Busan just a bit west to Changwon, about 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

Son is the second major free agent signing by the Dinos this month. On Dec. 14, they acquired outfielder Park Kun-woo on a six-year, 10 billion-won contract.

They lost their All-Star outfielder Na Sung-bum in free agency Thursday but, with Park and now Son, have brought in two of the league's top contact hitters.

With a .324 lifetime batting average, Son is fourth on the all-time list among hitters with at least 3,000 plate appearances. He has hit .300 or better in 11 out of his 12 full seasons. He has won five Golden Gloves and became the fastest and the youngest player to reach the 2,000-hit plateau earlier this year.

Son's power numbers have dipped recently, though, as he managed just three home runs this year after hitting 11 in 2020, 10 in 2019 and a career-high 26 in 2018.

But with a career .400 on-base percentage, Son should be the catalyst at the top of the Dinos' lineup, the same role that he served with the Giants for over a decade.

"I am thrilled to be joining NC. I was sold on this team's vision of trying to win a championship every season," Son said. "It breaks my heart to leave the Giants, but I am confident I can tackle a new challenge."

Son said he first received an offer from the Dinos on Tuesday. The ensuing three days before signing the deal were, in Son's words, "the most difficult period of my life."

"I've been able to become the player that I am today all thanks to the Lotte Giants and their fans, and that's why it was so tough for me to decide to switch teams," Son said. "After I got the offer, I could barely sleep at night. But people with the Dinos waited for me patiently, and I got the impression that they really wanted me."

Son said as an opposing player, he found the Dinos "pesky and difficult to play against" and added, "I will try not to mess up the strong foundation that NC has built."

Lim Sun-nam, the Dinos' general manager, said Son should be a perfect fit for the team thanks to his on-base skills and contact ability. (Yonhap)

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