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Japanese league takes step to acquire Oh

The top Japanese baseball league has tendered a status check on South Korean relief pitcher Oh Seung-hwan, officials here said Wednesday, taking a formal administrative step to allow Japanese clubs to enter the bidding war for South Korea’s all-time saves leader.

The Korea Baseball Organization said the Nippon Professional Baseball league on Tuesday asked for Oh’s status in the top South Korean league. The KBO said it informed the NPB that Oh, 31, is currently with the Samsung Lions, and the Lions are willing to negotiate a move for their pitcher.

Under an agreement between the two leagues, the NPB must take a status check on KBO players if Japanese teams are interested in acquiring them.

Earlier this month, the Lions announced that they will allow Oh to test foreign waters this winter. After completing his equivalent of eight full seasons in the KBO, Oh is eligible for conditional free agency this winter. Such a free agent can sign with any KBO team he wishes but needs his team’s approval to play in a foreign league.

Following the Lions’ decision, Oh can be posted for an auction among interested Major League Baseball clubs, or he can negotiate and sign a loan deal with an NPB team, with the Lions receiving a transfer fee.

Since his debut in 2005, Oh has been the KBO’s most dominant closer. He is the career saves leader with 277.

The Lions won five championships with Oh closing out games, including the past three. He was voted the Korean Series MVP in 2005 and 2011, and holds the all-time postseason saves record with 13. (Yonhap News)
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