South Korean baseball club, NC Dinos after winning their first Korean Series title in 2020 had missed out on the postseason altogether in 2021. This in turn led them to be the first Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club in 11 years to miss the playoffs in their title-defending season.
The franchise in the offseason had a massive overhaul, as it let their icon Na Sung-bum leave the club via free agency and either traded or released several others who had been with the club since 2013.
It recently signed outfielders Park Kun-woo and Son Ah-seop in free agent, whilst also replacing outfielder Aaron Altherr with Nick Martini.
The club’s manager Lee Dong-wook, mentioned that the offseason changes hit too close to home. He has to figure out now how to piece together a new puzzle.
The latest joiners, Park and Son are two of the KBO’s premier contact hitters, and they will step right in as regular outfielders.
The Dinos lost their regular first baseman Kang Jin-sung, who was signed to the Doosan Bears as compensation after the former signed Park, a former Doosan outfielder, as a free agent. A few players will battle for the first base job, and in case a clear winner emerges, then Martini will settle down in the outfield.
The Dinos for the early part of the season will also be without four veterans following their lengthy bans issued last year over violations of COVID-19 protocols.
According to reports, KBO had fined second baseman Park Min-woo, third baseman Park Sok-min, and outfielders Lee Myung-ki and Kwon Hui-dong with 72-game bans.
The oft-injured ace Koo Chang-mo on the mound, will also be miss the early half of the season due to his left arm operation last July.
Lastly, Lee mentioned how the Dinos will handle early-season adversity will go a long way toward determining their postseason fate, and focus at spring training to get the players ready to navigate early days of the season.