[Weekender] China’s rising clout in Korea

KBO general managers discuss potential rule changes for 2014

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Published : 2014-01-07 19:16
Updated : 2014-01-07 19:16

General managers of the teams in the top South Korean baseball league on Tuesday discussed potential rule changes for the upcoming season, including tweaking the current free agency system.

The officials of the 10 teams in the Korea Baseball Organization held their first executive committee meeting on Tuesday. The nine current teams were joined by the KT Wiz, which will enter the KBO in 2015.

The officials discussed allowing clubs to sign free agent players returning from overseas leagues to multiyear contracts. In such cases, teams are only permitted to sign players to one-year deals.

However, late last month, the Doosan Bears acknowledged that they’d illegally signed their pitcher Lee Hei-chun to a four-year deal when he returned from Japan in 2010, and only announced that they’d inked him to a one-year contract. The violation was revealed during a contract dispute between Lee and the Bears.

According to the league, the general manager agreed it was “unrealistic” to force teams to sign such returnees to only one-year deals because those players often demand multiyear contracts for added security.

The KBO said the officials also discussed scrapping or raising the salary cap on foreign players. The cap is currently set at $300,000, but even team officials have said it was the “worst kept secret” that teams have long been paying their imports more money than is allowed, especially players with Major League Baseball experience.

The executive committee also looked into playing on Mondays, usually an off day for the league, to squeeze in games, since the KBO will be put on hold for the Asian Games baseball competition in September in Incheon, west of Seoul. The KBO teams will release their star players for the national team for the continental event, where South Korea will try to defend its gold medal.

“Considering the Asian Games and the national team’s training schedule, the league will have to stop for about 17 days,” one general manager said. “We’d like to avoid playing double headers, and we talked about playing on Mondays in case weekend games are rained out.”

The general managers will submit their proposals to the board of directors, made up of the KBO team presidents and senior KBO officials, for their meeting next Tuesday. (Yonhap News)

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