The Kiwoom Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization have agreed to a one-year contract with catcher/first baseman David Freitas, per Jee-ho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency. Freitas, a client of PSI Sports Management, is guaranteed $550K on the deal and can earn another $50K via incentives. He was on the Brewers’ 40-man roster as of this morning, so Milwaukee seems likely to formally announce his release today. They’ll receive some compensation for granting him his release to facilitate the move and free up a spot on the 40-man roster.
Yoo points out that because the Heroes are largely set at catcher and first base, Freitas, who’ll be 32 in March, could DH for them in 2021 while serving as a backup option at both positions. That may sound odd for someone with a .200/.268/.288 batting line in the Majors, but that output has come in a tiny sample of 143 plate appearances and Freitas has clobbered Triple-A pitching in a much larger sample. In parts of seven seasons totaling 1086 plate appearances in Triple-A, Freitas has put together a .326/.403/.474 batting line — including a .381/.461/.561 slash in 382 plate appearances in 2019.
Depending on how things go in his first KBO season, Freitas could find himself with more promising opportunities back in North American ball, or he could position himself for a second contract and a raise overseas. The $550K guarantee on his deal is slightly less than the Major League minimum, but with Omar Narvaez, Manny Pina, Jacob Nottingham and Luke Maile all on the 40-man roster in Milwaukee, the out-of-options Freitas would’ve had a difficult time cracking the Opening Day roster as a Brewer.
Even if he’d landed elsewhere via waivers, there’s no guarantee he’d have stuck on the 26-man roster all season. Freitas has appeared in parts of three MLB seasons, after all (2017-19), and has just over one full year of big league service time under his belt. That $550K guarantee marks a sizable raise from the salary he’d have taken home had he spent the bulk of the upcoming season in Triple-A.