Former Major League right-hander Eric Hacker is returning to the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization for a fourth season, the announced this week (via Jee-ho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency). Per Yoo, Hacker will receive a $1MM guarantee, marking a $100K raise from last year’s salary. Hacker, like many others before him, has carved out a nice career in Asia after spending much of his pro tenure in relative anonymity in the United States. The 2017 season will be his fifth season with the Dinos, and the million-dollar salary he’s guaranteed dwarfs the money he’d have otherwise made pitching in minor league baseball (or even pitching at the Major League minimum, to a lesser extent).
The 33-year-old Hacker never panned out in Major League Baseball and in fact only totaled 18 innings in the Majors. The longtime Yankees farmhand made his big league debut with the Pirates in 2009 and saw brief stints with the Twins and Giants in 2011-12 but never stood out in terms of Triple-A performance. He found quick success with the Dinos in 2013, though, pitching to a 3.63 ERA in 178 1/3 innings in the hitter-friendly KBO. Since moving to the Korean league, Hacker has totaled 681 innings with a 3.57 ERA while displaying solid control and a strikeout rate that has improved with each passing season.
Hacker is the second American player to ink a contract with the Dinos this week, as word broke earlier today that former Cardinals and Marlins first baseman/outfielder Xavier Scruggs has signed a one-year deal with the team (also for $1MM). KBO teams are permitted to carry three foreign players, so Scruggs and Hacker will occupy two of those spots with the Dinos.