Expansion fees stall KBO inter-team trade

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Expansion fees stall KBO inter-team trade

Executives of the Korea Baseball Organization clubs yesterday decided that a controversial, player-for-cash trade between the Heroes and the LG Twins would not be allowed until the Heroes clear their outstanding expansion fee payments.

In an emergency board meeting at the Hotel Shilla in Seoul yesterday, KBO officials agreed that the Heroes must first pay 3.6 billion won ($3.1 million) in remaining expansion fees before making any trade. They had a total of 12 billion won to pay.

Last Friday, the Heroes announced they would trade their leadoff man Lee Taek-geun to the Twins in exchange for two players and 2.5 billion won in cash.

New franchises entering the KBO must pay expansion fees, which are distributed to existing teams and are also used to cover the league’s operating costs.

The Heroes have argued that they’ve already made their payment. They say they paid the two Seoul-based clubs, the Twins and the Doosan Bears, 1.5 billion won each in compensation for sharing the fan base in the nation’s capital. The remaining 600 million won, the Heroes say, went to the KBO.

But at yesterday’s meeting, the league and presidents from teams excluding the Twins, Bears and Heores, decided that they cannot recognize that 3 billion won payment to the Twins and the Bears as expansion fees.

KBO Commissioner You Young-koo said flatly, “The KBO has not received 3.6 billion won.” Heroes president Lee Jang-seok countered that his club has paid and it’s up to the Twins and the Bears to return the money to the league office.

When the Heroes joined the KBO in 2008, teams settled on a league-wide agreement that they couldn’t trade players for cash for the first five years of their existence. But later they tweaked the rule so that the Heroes could make trades once they paid their expansion fees. They had two years to complete the payment over six installments.

The Heroes have hinted that they could trade even more players for cash. Lee, 29, had 15 homers and 43 steals in 2009 and became the first Heroes player to win the Golden Glove for defensive work. He was the member of the gold medal-winning team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Last year, the Heroes tried to deal away their left-handed ace Jang Won-sam to the Samsung Lions for a player and 3 billion in cash, but the KBO vetoed the trade.

By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]
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