“I want to go as soon as possible.”

Lee Jung-hoo (24), the best hitter in the KBO league, had a dream rather than freedom. He expressed his will to realize his dream on a wider stage by entering the overseas stage as quickly as possible. 

An official from Kiwoom said, “Lee Jeong-hoo visited the club’s office today (19th) to proceed with salary negotiations, and here he expressed his desire to challenge the overseas stage after the 2023 season. It is the first time he has expressed his intention to go abroad to the club.”

In the meantime, Lee Jung-hoo has talked about entering overseas markets such as the major leagues as a ‘desire’ in official events. But this is the first time he has made it official and articulated his opinion to his club. 

Everyone knows Lee Jung-hoo’s intention to go abroad. Now the question of how and when remains. Lee Jung-hoo chose to advance to the posting system after the 2023 season, which was the earliest possible time. 

Lee Jung-hoo, who joined Nexen (now Kiwoom) Heroes in 2017 as the first choice, finished his 6th year this year. In 142 games this year, he posted a batting average of 3.4 9 Lee (193 hits in 553 at-bats), 23 home runs, 113 RBIs, an on-base percentage of 4.2 1 Lee, and a .575 OPS of .996. He won five crowns by winning batting average, most hits, RBI, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, and swept year-end awards such as KBO MVP and Golden Glove in the outfield category. 

In a situation where he has been reborn as the best hitter in the league, he can challenge the overseas stage with the posting system when the 7th year season ends next year. The major league stage challenge is certain.

Currently, the posting system procedure specified in the Korea-American Professional Baseball Agreement allows for free contract negotiations with 30 clubs for 30 days from the time the posting is announced by the Major League Secretariat. When the contract is completed, the transfer fee received by the original team at that time is also confirmed. If the player’s total guaranteed contract amount is less than $25 million, the KBO club receives 20% of the amount. 20% of the first $25 million, plus 17.5% of the amount over $25 million, for total coverage contract amounts between $25 million and more, and $50 million; The transfer fee is 20% of $10,000 plus 17.5% for amounts between $25,000 and $50,000, and 15% for amounts exceeding $50,000,000.

For Kiwoom, in this way, he signed a four-year, up to $28 million contract with Kim Ha-sung’s San Diego in 2021, earning a transfer fee of $5.525 million. Even with the posting system of the exclusive negotiation method before the revision, Kiwoom raised the transfer fee income. In 2015, when Kang Jeong-ho signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he earned 5 million dollars in transfer fees, and when Park Byeong-ho entered the Minnesota Twins, the transfer fee was 12.85 million dollars.

For Kiwoom, who does not have enough funds, it is of course advantageous to advance into the posting system. The club’s operating expenses can be covered with considerable transfer fee income.

However, from the player’s point of view, instead of advancing even one year earlier, there are restrictions on returning to the KBO League. Under the current system, if a player advances to the overseas stage through the posting system, the player is not free. The original club retains the right to reserve. If you return to the domestic stage, you must return to your original team. After that, you have to run at least 4 more years to get FA qualification again. 메이저놀이터

Article 164 of the KBO Rules Article 164 Reacquisition of FA qualification Article 1 states, ‘After a player exercises his FA rights or returns to Korea after entering a foreign country pursuant to Article 104, if he has been active for 4 regular seasons from the date of registration as a member player Acquire FA qualification again’. Article 104 of the Rules is a regulation on entry into the posting system. 

There is a precedent of Park Byeong-ho. Park Byung-ho signed a contract with Minnesota for up to 5 years and 18 million dollars ahead of the 2016 season and challenged the major leagues, but returned to Kiwoom in 2018. He eventually played four more years until 2021 before qualifying as a full free agent. Park Byung-ho left Kiwoom and signed a free agent contract with KT for 3 years and 3 billion won. He challenged the major leagues at the age of 30 and returned to the season at the age of 32. And his first free agent rights didn’t come until he was 36 years old.

If Lee Jung-hoo advances through these procedures and returns, he must return to Kiwoom without exception. The same goes for Kim Ha-seong. If in 2024 Lee Jung-hoo advances overseas, including the major leagues, he will be 26 years old. It is a pity from the player’s point of view that he is young enough but not completely free. Nevertheless, Lee Jung-hoo chose to pursue his dream on a bigger stage rather than freedom.