Negotiations with Kia Tigers’ star hit a snagNegotiations on Choi Hee-seop’s contract have hit a snag after team officials and the first baseman were unable to reach an agreement on a sum.
Choi has decided not to attend the team’s winter training camp in Pohang, North Gyeongsang, and has even gone so far as to say he will retire from baseball.
Kia officials and Choi met on Monday for the first round of negotiations on Choi’s salary for the upcoming season.
“Choi is not answering our calls at the moment,” said Kia Tigers President Kim Cho-ho yesterday. “We’re trying to figure out which part of the negotiation process Choi is unhappy about and why he stated his intention to retire from baseball.”
Kim went on to add that he did not expect an agreement between the two parties would be reached anytime soon.
The problems stem from the reported amount of 350 million won ($302,750) the team offered and the 500 million won Choi had been hoping to earn from the club.
“I met Choi for the first round of negotiations on Monday and did not detect that there was anything wrong. I congratulated him on a solid season and told team officials to give him a significant raise,” said Kim.
According to Yoon Ki-doo, the head of operations and administration with the Tigers, the first meeting ended on a positive note and Tigers officials were planning to hold a second meeting at the Pohang training camp.
After leaving his career in the Major Leagues, Choi signed with the Tigers in 2007 at an annual salary of 350 million won. However, due to his lackluster play, his annual salary was cut to 200 million won.
After a tough training regiment prior to the start of the season, Choi batted .308 and produced 33 home runs, the second most in the league, and 100 RBI, the third most in the league. He also played a key role in the Tigers’ first Korean Series title in 12 years. As such, Choi was expecting a considerable raise above the 150 million won he was offered.
“Without any words of congratulation, the team offered me 350 million won per season. I took a big cut when I struggled but it’s difficult to understand how the team would raise my salary back to the original sum prior to the cut after a solid season,” Choi said.
Yoon responded by saying that perhaps the next meeting should include a third party.
By Kim Seek [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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