Five players still homeless as KBO free agent market starts to wind down

After a week of furious signing followed by a month-long lull, there are now just five names left in the KBO’s free agent market: Pitchers Han Hyun-hee, Jeong Chan-heon and Kang Ri-ho and outfielders Kwon Hui-dong and Lee Myung-ki.

Han, formerly of the Kiwoom Heroes, is the only free agent remaining ranked in the KBO’s “A” category for the top potential candidates, Jeong, also formerly of the Heroes, and Kwon, formerly of the NC Dinos, both categorized as “B.” Kang and Lee are both categorized in the lowest “C” class.

When the market opened on Nov. 17 there were 21 free agents. The initial focus was on catchers, with the four starting catchers in the market all changing teams.

Park Dong-won, the former Kia Tigers catcher, was the first to make a move, joining the LG Twins on a four-year deal worth 6.5 billion won ($4.8 million). Park Dong-won’s arrival in Seoul was immediately followed by Yoo Kang-nam’s departure, with the veteran catcher leaving the Twins to join the Lotte Giants on a four-year deal worth 8 billion won.

A day later, the Doosan Bears brought back former catcher Yang Eui-ji on a four-plus-two deal worth up to 15.2 billion won, four years after he left the Bears for the NC Dinos. With Yang’s return, the former Bears catcher Park Sei-hyok headed south to take Yang’s spot with the Dinos on a four-year deal worth 4.6 billion won.

When the dust had finally settled on all those moves, the Twins, Giants, Bears and Dinos all had new catchers, while the Tigers were the only team left to look deeper into their existing squad to fill the spot.

After that initial flurry, things quietened down a lot. Other big deals included the NC Dinos re-signing Park Min-woo on a 5+3 deal worth up to 14 billion won and free agent infielder Chae Eun-seong joining the Hanwha Eagles on a six-year deal worth 9 billion won.

Infielder Shin Bok-ki signed the most recent contract on Tuesday, a 300-million-won deal to stay with the KT Wiz for one more year.

The KBO free agent market has been fairly dramatic in recent years. In 2019, a total of 24 players were eligible for free agency, while in 2020 the Bears alone had seven players opt for free agency. Last year was relatively quieter, with 14 players only opting for free agency, although some fairly big names did change hands.

This year’s market looks set to be fairly unpredictable after the KBO in November announced the introduction of a team salary cap for the first time in the league’s history.

The cap is set at 11,426,380,000 won, a figure that the league arrived at after at the average combined salary of the top-40 highest paid players at each club over the last two years, excluding foreign players and rookies.

If a team breaks the salary cap they will have to pay 50 percent of the excess in a fine to the league. Repeat offenders will have to pay the entire excess in a fine and fall nine spots in the following year’s rookie draft. 바카라사이트

Three teams would have broken that salary cap last season.

The SSG Landers paid out over 24.8 billion won, more than double the new salary cap. The Samsung Lions paid 12.8 billion won and the NC Dinos paid 12.5 billion won.
The Hanwha Eagles and the Kiwoom Heroes paid the least last season, at around 5 billion won each.

The 2023 KBO season will start on Saturday April 1. Most teams leave at the end of January for spring training, with the SSG Landers, Kiwoom Heroes, LG Twins, KT Wiz, Kia Tigers, NC Dinos and Hanwha Eagles all headed to the United States.

The Samsung Lions and Lotte Giants are both headed to Okinawa in Japan, where the Tigers and Eagles will also spend some time, with the Giants also going to Guam. The Doosan Bears alone are headed to Australia.

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