Veteran infielder/outfielder Niko Goodrum, who opted out of a deal with the Red Sox last week, has signed with the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization, the team announced (link via Jee-ho Yoo of South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency). He’ll be paid $400K for the remainder of the season. Goodrum, a client of Roc Nation Sports, will take the roster spot of former Dodgers and Rangers outfielder Zach Reks, who was cut loose after a knee injury tanked his 2023 season.
The 31-year-old Goodrum is a veteran of six Major League seasons who debuted with the Twins back in 2017. The switch-hitter has since spent time in Detroit and Houston, logging a combined .226/.299/.389 batting line in 1531 plate appearances between the three teams. The versatile Goodrum was particularly productive in 2018-19, when he played all four infield positions and all three outfield positions for the Tigers while posting a combined .247/.318/.427 slash with 28 homers and 24 steals in 964 plate appearances.
Goodrum’s 2023 season with the Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate in Worcester was excellent. In 286 trips to the plate, he batted .280/.448/.440 with eight home runs, seven steals and a staggering 23.1% walk rate. Statcast credits Goodrum as a plus defender at both middle infield positions and a passable option in the outfield as well.
With a strong showing in the KBO, it’s possible Goodrum could sign on for another season in South Korea or perhaps head to Japan’s NPB. He’d have seven-figure earning power in either league, though it’s also possible he’ll look to parlay this year’s strong Triple-A showing and a (hopefully) similar level of production in the KBO into a guaranteed big league deal as a free agent next winter.
As for the 29-year-old Reks, he joined the Giants last year as a midseason replacement much as Goodrum is doing now. The 2017 tenth-rounder (Dodgers) hit .330/.410/.495 in 56 games and 251 plate appearances down the stretch, earning himself a $1.2MM guarantee to return ($1MM salary plus $200K signing bonus), but this year’s knee injury left him with a tepid .246/.338/.345 output in a similar sample size to his 2022 showing. Reks is a career .290/.388/.537 hitter in parts of three Triple-A seasons but has only received 44 plate appearances at the MLB level.