The Kiwoom Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization announced yesterday they’ve signed outfielder Ronnie Dawson to a contract for the remainder of the 2023 season (h/t to Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News). He’ll be paid an $85K salary through year’s end. In a corresponding transaction, the Heroes released infielder Addison Russell.
Dawson, 28, got cups of coffee at the MLB level in 2021-22. The Ohio State product debuted with three games for the Astros — the club that originally selected him in the second round of the 2016 draft — late in the ’21 season. He returned to the majors for a one-game stint with the Reds last year while the team was dealing with COVID-19 issues.
The left-handed hitter spent the rest of last season with the Reds’ top minor league club in Louisville. He hit .252/.339/.394 with 11 homers and stolen bases apiece. He’d been playing in the independent ranks this year. Dawson was off to a .282/.363/.512 start with 13 longballs in 64 games for the Atlantic League’s Lexington Counter Clocks.
Making the jump to the KBO surely comes with a nice pay bump. If he hits well in this audition, he could play his way into another deal there or in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball for 2024. Dawson has scant MLB experience but might put himself back on the big league radar with a strong KBO showing, particularly if he does spend multiple seasons there.
Russell returns to free agency after hitting .286/.339/.400 in 59 games. Yoo notes that he hasn’t played in nearly a month because of a wrist injury. KBO teams are limited to three foreign-born players on the roster, so they typically have a short leash when one of those players is hurt for a notable stretch of time. The former Cub shortstop hasn’t played in the majors since 2019 after serving a 40-game domestic violence suspension the year prior.