S. Korean infielder Hwang Jae-gyun to test MLB market

October 15, 2015
Hwang Jae-gyun (Yonhap)

Hwang Jae-gyun (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — South Korean infielder Hwang Jae-gyun on Thursday declared his intention to test the market in Major League Baseball (MLB), saying he’d been preparing for the move for a long time.

Hwang, a third baseman for the Lotte Giants in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), said he’d asked his club to post him for MLB teams this offseason. He said he will have more discussions with the front office on Friday.

“Any baseball player would dream of playing in the majors,” the 28-year-old said. “And I have been working hard to realize that dream myself. I’ve already signed on with an American management company.”

Earlier in the week, Hwang’s Lotte teammate, outfielder Son Ah-seop, also asked the Giants to post him.

“I wanted to keep a low profile, but when articles on Ah-seop mentioned my name, I decided to go public, too,” Hwang added.

A KBO player becomes eligible for posting after completing seven seasons or their equivalent. Once a player is posted, MLB teams can submit bids in a silent auction for the right to negotiate with him. If the player’s original KBO club decided to accept the highest bid, then that MLB club will have 30 days to work out a deal with the player.

If the player signs with that big league team, then his KBO club will pocket the posting fee. If the player and the MLB team fail to come to an agreement, the player will be taken off the market and won’t be eligible for posting until the following year.

Hwang set career-highs with 26 home runs, 97 RBIs, 95 runs scored and 41 doubles this season, while batting .290.

A KBO club may only post one player each offseason, meaning Hwang or Son could be the odd-man out.

Son, an All-Star right fielder, batted. 317 with 13 home runs, 54 RBIs and 11 steals. He’s a career .323 hitter and has hit at least .300 in each of his past six seasons.

Hwang said he hasn’t spoken to Son about his own plans.

“I’ve been training on my own since our season ended (early October),” Hwang added. “Now that I’ve told my team I want, I will be waiting for the reply.”

Aside from Hwang and Son, Nexen Heroes’ slugger Park Byung-ho is another candidate to be posted this year. He has led the KBO in home runs and RBIs in the past four seasons, and he had 53 home runs and 146 RBIs — a single-season record — this year.

Two South Korean players have reached the majors via posting. In 2012, left-hander Ryu Hyun-jin signed a six-year, US$36 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which bid $25.7 million for him.

In January this year, infielder Kang Jung-ho inked a four-year, $16 million deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates, after the Bucs put in a bid of $5 million.

Park Byung-ho is represented by Kang’s American agent, Alan Nero of Octagon.