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Korean Series champs KT Wiz retain starters Despaigne, Cuevas

KT Wiz starter William Cuevas (Yonhap)
KT Wiz starter William Cuevas (Yonhap)
The South Korean baseball champions KT Wiz announced Thursday they will bring back both of their foreign starting pitchers for next year.

The Wiz said they have signed right-handers Odrisamer Despaigne and William Cuevas to new one-year deals.

Despaigne, 34, can earn a maximum $1.35 million, with $1.1 million in salary and signing bonus, plus up to $250,000 in incentives. The 31-year-old Cuevas can earn as much as $1.1 million won -- $1 million in salary and signing bonus, and a maximum $100,000 in incentives.

Despaigne will be back for his third season with the Wiz, and Cuevas will be pitching for his fourth season with the club.

In 2021, Despaigne went 13-10 with a team-leading 3.39 ERA and 165 strikeouts in 33 starts. The Cuban right-hander has led the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) in innings pitched in each of the past two seasons: 188 2/3 innings this year and 207 2/3 innings in 2020.

Cuevas was 9-5 with a 4.12 ERA in 23 starts this year. The Venezuelan saved his best work for key moments, though. On Oct. 31, Cuevas threw seven shutout innings on two days' rest to help the Wiz beat the Samsung Lions 1-0 in a rare tiebreaker for the regular season crown.

Cuevas then pitched the opening game of the Korean Series and held the Doosan Bears to a run over 7 2/3 innings in a 4-2 win, paving the path for a four-game sweep by the Wiz for their first championship.

"Despaigne and Cuevas are both proven pitchers," said KT general manager Lee Soong-yong. "Despaigne ate up a lot of innings for us, and Cuevas pitched well in crucial games. We're counting on them to be our aces again next year."

The Wiz have now completed their foreign player signings for 2022. On Dec. 1, they acquired former major league outfielder Henry Ramos.

KBO clubs can carry up to three foreign players, but no more than two pitchers.

In domestic free agency, the Wiz brought back catcher Jang Sung-woo and third baseman Hwang Jae-gyun, before making a big splash Wednesday by signing two-time MVP Park Byung-ho away from the Kiwoom Heroes. (Yonhap)

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