The KIA Tigers of the Korea Baseball Organization announced that outfielder Socrates Brito is returning for a third season with the team (hat tip to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net). Brito will receive $800K in guaranteed money in the form of a $500K salary and a $300K signing bonus, plus he can earn an additional $400K in contract incentives.
It’s easy to see why the Tigers were interested in a reunion, as Brito has hit .298/.349/.478 with 37 homers over his two seasons (1162 plate appearances) in South Korea. The 31-year-old Brito has primarily been the club’s everyday center fielder, while also seeing some action in both corner outfield positions.
Formerly a prospect in the Diamondbacks’ farm system, Brito showed some signs of the dreaded “Quad-A” label, as his impressive .287/.339/.467 slash line over 1960 Triple-A plate appearances didn’t translate to the big leagues, albeit in a pretty limited sample size of MLB playing time — Brito hit only .179/.216/.309 over 218 PA with the D’Backs and Blue Jays from 2015-19. Brito signed minor league deals with the Pirates and Yankees in 2020 and 2021 without any more time in the majors, and Brito also had to endure a personal tragedy in 2020 when his brother passed away from COVID-19.
There hasn’t been any public indication that Brito has received any looks from Major League teams during his tenure in the KBO League, or even that Brito has necessarily been on the lookout for a return to North American baseball. There’s certainly still time for Brito to explore such possibilities in the future, but for now, he has carved a nice niche for himself with the Tigers.