Outfielder Zach Reks is staying with the Lotte Giants for another year, according to @jhpae117 on Twitter, relayed an translated by Dan Kurtz of MyKBO. He first joined the KBO club in July of this year. He’ll earn a $1MM salary plus a $200K signing bonus and will be able to unlock a further $100K in incentives.
Reks, 29, spent years in the system of the Dodgers and one with the Rangers, making many minor league pitchers weep. He posted an above-average batting line at every step up the minor league ladder, including a slash of .290/.388/.537 over three different Triple-A seasons. Despite always mashing in the minors, he only got to play 22 big league games over 2021 and 2022.
Players in that position are generally best suited for a trip overseas so that they can prove their mettle while getting a higher rate of pay than they would in the minors. He got $310K for just the final few months of the schedule, roughly equivalent to the prorated MLB minimum, which was $700K for a full season in 2022. Reks took the opportunity and ran with it, as he posted a line of .330/.410/.495 with the Giants.
Based on that strong showing, the Giants were impressed enough to give him a pay bump to stay in Korea for another year. Reks can bank some nice cash and perhaps consider a return to MLB down the road if he keeps hitting in the KBO. Players like Eric Thames and Darin Ruf have shown that it’s possible to pivot from a breakout in Korea to a North American return, with a nice contract to go with.