MLB proposes posting fee cap of $8 million to KBO

March 18, 2016
Perhaps Kim Hyun-soo, right, should have taken the day off on Monday just like Park Byung-ho. (Yonhap)

The Minnesota Twins’ winning bid was $12.85 million for Park Byung-ho, left, while it was more feasible for the Baltimore Orioles to sign Kim Hyun-soo, who was not subject to posting process due to the length of his career in Korea.

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Major League Baseball (MLB) has proposed a cap on the amount a big league club can bid on South Korean players in posting, baseball officials said Friday.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) and MLB have been having discussions on the US$8 million limit on players who are eligible for posting, according to a KBO official.

“The MLB Commissioner’s Office recently suggested putting a cap on the posting fee,” the official said. “They’ve come up with $8 million, but nothing has been decided. We’ll soon have discussions over this issue.”

An industry source told Yonhap News Agency that MLB made the proposal last September.

Under the United States-Korean Player Contract Agreement, a KBO player who has completed at least seven full seasons can be posted with his club’s blessing. Currently, MLB clubs can submit uncapped bids for the player in a silent auction and the team with the highest bid earns the exclusive negotiating rights with that player.

If the club and the player agree to a deal within 30 days, then the posting fee goes to the player’s KBO club as compensation.

Three South Korean players have signed major league deals via posting, each of them commanding millions in the bidding process. The Los Angeles Dodgers put in a bid of about $25.73 million for left-hander Ryu Hyun-jin in 2012. In January 2015, the Pittsburgh Pirates won the bidding for infielder Kang Jung-ho with just over $5 million. Last December, the Minnesota Twins won the exclusive rights to talk to first baseman Park Byung-ho after submitting a $12.85 million bid.

MLB and Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) also have a posting system under their agreement, and a $20 million cap on the bids was placed in December 2013. The logic was to expand options for posted players and to allow less well-to-do MLB clubs to enter the bidding war for desired players.

Based on the new MLB-NPB agreement, the posted player has 30 days to negotiate with any team willing to pay the maximum fee.

While the KBO clubs may balk at a cap of any amount, it may favor players at the negotiating table. In the current setting, they have little leverage since they can only negotiate with one club. If revisions to the agreement fall in line with those in the MLB-NPB deal, posted KBO players will be able to talk with all clubs that put in the maximum bid.