Brian O’Grady has signed with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization, tweets C. Trent Rosecrans of the Athletic. It’s a deal for up to $900K, with $700K in salary and $200K in incentives, according to Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News (Twitter link).
O’Grady got brief looks in the big leagues each season from 2019-21. A former Reds draftee, he played in the Cincinnati system for a half-decade and earned an MLB debut with the Reds in ’19. O’Grady appeared in 28 contests for Cincinnati before being dealt to the Rays the following offseason. The lefty-hitting corner outfielder suited up just twice with Tampa Bay in the shortened 2020 campaign and was outrighted off the roster over the 2020-21 winter. He signed an MLB contract with the Padres and suited up a personal-high 32 times for the Friars the next season.
Between the three clubs, O’Grady managed just a .184/.283/.388 line in 114 MLB plate appearances. He’d hit at an excellent .284/.362/.551 clip through parts of three Triple-A campaigns, though, and that strong upper minors work caught the attention of evaluators in Japan. The Rutgers product inked a deal with the Seibu Lions in Nippon Professional Baseball last offseason. He tallied 465 trips to the plate but didn’t perform as the club had hoped offensively, putting up a .213/.312/.384 line with 15 home runs. O’Grady walked at a quality 11.6% clip but struck out in 27.7% of plate appearances for the Lions.
The Eagles will take a shot on a rebound season, betting on O’Grady’s power and plate discipline. His strong minor league track record gives reason for optimism as he heads to South Korea for the first time. The Philadelphia native turns 31 in May and could eventually look for a return to the affiliated ranks if he performs well in the KBO. For now, he’ll look to help an Eagles team that went just 46-96 this year to bounce back from a last-place finish.