Outfielder Preston Tucker is set to sign with the Kia Tigers of the Korea Baseball Organization, per an announcement from the Tigers (link via Jee-ho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency). He’ll take a physical for them on Monday. Tucker had been with the White Sox’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2019 season but will seemingly be granted his release. With the Tigers, he’ll take the spot of another former MLB outfielder, Jeremy Hazelbaker, who is being released.
Tucker, 28, had two separate stints with the Braves in 2018 as well as one with the Reds, hitting a combined .229/.299/.404 with six homers and 11 doubles in 184 plate appearances. He was one of several unexpected contributors who helped to carry the Braves early in the season before the debut of Ronald Acuna last season, raking at a .288/.333/.538 clip through his first 18 games (and, like Hazelbaker with the ’16 Cardinals, serving as a reminder that April stats can be quite misleading). He posted just a .626 OPS from that point through season’s end, however.
Tucker has seen 651 plate appearances at the MLB level and has a rather meek .222/.281/.403 slash to show for his efforts, though he sports a much heftier .273/.341/.467 line in 1411 PAs across parts of six Triple-A seasons.
As for the 31-year-old Hazelbaker, he signed a one-year deal with the Tigers in the offseason but will see his stint there end after just 11 games and a .146/.239/.341 batting line through 46 plate appearances. Hazelbaker had a down year in a 2018 season he split between the Triple-A affiliates for the Twins and the Rays, but he’s a lifetime .259/.327/.436 hitter in parts of seven Triple-A campaigns.