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Slugger from Korea fails to create a major league buzz

Jan 06,2020
Though it may seem unlikely that he will land a major league deal by the fast-approaching deadline, posted Korean slugger Kim Jae-hwan did not withdraw himself from the open market.

Kim Pyung-ki of Seoul-based agency Sportizen said there will be no turning back for his client, who must agree to a contract by 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, or 7 a.m. this morning, Seoul time. If he can’t sign a deal this time around, Kim Jae-hwan won’t be eligible to be posted again until November and must return to his original KBO club, the Doosan Bears.

Kim Jae-hwan, the 2018 KBO regular season MVP, was posted on Dec. 5 last year, and the 30-day negotiating period began the following day. All 30 big league clubs are free to talk to the 31-year-old.

“From the beginning, we expected this to go down to the wire,” the agent told Yonhap News Agency. “We still have a couple more days, and there have been deals signed at the last minute. Let’s see what happens.”

Another Korean player, left-handed pitcher Kim Kwang-hyun, was posted on the same day, and he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals on Dec. 17. Kim Jae-hwan has yet to generate much buzz. He’s represented in the United States by Creative Artists Agency Sports.

Kim Jae-hwan had a down year in 2019, batting .283/.362/.434 with 15 home runs and 91 RBIs in 136 games. In 2018, Kim earned the MVP award after putting up a .334/.405/.657 line, plus league-leading totals of 44 home runs and 133 RBIs in 139 games.

An informed source told Yonhap News Agency on Thursday that the Miami Marlins were in on Kim and asked their Korean contact on Dec. 20 for a video of the player and additional data.

The source said the Marlins, who don’t have a scout based in Korea, seemed lukewarm after watching footage of Kim in action.

And the Marlins have also reportedly lost interest in Kim after signing another outfielder, Corey Dickerson, last weekend.

Kim came out of blue to enter the open market via posting, which left surprised major league scouts without detailed reports on the player that they could send to their clubs.

To be eligible for posting, KBO players must complete seven full seasons or their equivalent. One full season equates to 145 days spent on the active roster. Kim, who made his debut in 2008 but only became an everyday player in 2016, had fallen 47 days shy of his seventh full season at the end of the 2019 season.

But Kim received 60 bonus days of service time from the KBO in November, after helping Korea finish in second place at the World Baseball Softball Confederation Premier12 tournament.

Yonhap