KOBE – The Orix Buffaloes have acquired infielder Yuniesky Betancourt on a one-year deal worth ¥100 million, the Pacific League club announced Wednesday.
The right-handed hitting 31-year-old is a native of Cuba who began playing in the big leagues in 2005 with the Seattle Mariners and has had two stints each with the Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers. He has a batting average of .261 over his nine-year career with 80 homers, 13 of them last season, but his career on-base percentage is a measly .285.
Betancourt, who began his career as a shortstop, played mostly at first and third last year for the Brewers.
“He may hit for average and can bat in the middle of the order,” Orix director of baseball operations Ryuzo Setoyama said. “He himself is hoping to play third base, but first base is a possibility, too.”
Over the offseason, both of the Buffaloes’s productive corner infielders, first baseman Lee Dae-ho and third baseman Aarom Baldiris, each opted to sign with other clubs. Orix has since signed speedy Lions third baseman Esteban German, and former Fukuoka Softbank Hawks designated hitter-outfielder Wily Mo Pena.