On Monday this week, the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization announced the signing of left-handed pitcher Dana Eveland.
The former member of the Baltimore Orioles in Major League Baseball signed a one-year pact worth $300,000, which included a signing bonus of $50,000, according to the Eagles.
The figure was in line with the KBO salary cap on foreign players.
It seemed like a harmless announcement, a typical offseason move by a KBO team trying to shore up its pitching staff by adding a foreign hurler with major-league experience.
Then the situation became all confusing.
In an online article, the Baltimore Sun also reported on Eveland’s signing but with a twist.
The story, quoting an unidentified industry source, said the left-hander signed for $675,000, with another $225,000 available through performance-based incentives. It meant Eveland could potentially make $900,000 in the KBO.
Eveland made $750,000 with the Orioles in 2012.
Contrasting reports such as these have fueled years-long controversy over the salary cap on foreign players in the KBO. The debate is centered on whether the KBO should consider raising the cap or whether it needs the cap at all, at a time when teams allegedly pay their imports more money than permitted under the table.
The hard cap is currently set at $300,000, and teams are only permitted to sign foreigners to one-year deals. If they want to retain their foreign players for the following season, the salary may not be raised by more than 25 percent.
When KBO teams were first allowed to sign foreigners in 1998, the cap was $120,000. It was raised to $200,000 in December 1999 and again to $300,000 five years later.
The Eagles claimed the Baltimore Sun report was inaccurate and maintained Eveland signed for $300,000, as the contract states.
The Eveland fiasco wasn’t the first such case this year. In January, former MLB pitcher Justin Germano opted not to re-sign with the Samsung Lions, the team that he had helped win the KBO championship in 2011, and instead joined the Boston Red Sox to resume his major-league career.
U.S. reports then said Germano turned down a $1 million offer from the Lions to return to the majors. The Lions denied the reports.
Under KBO rules, contracts that violate the salary cap are to be voided. But a KBO official admitted there is no particular rule that allows the league to penalize the team or the player, aside from voiding the deal. (Yonhap News)