KBO teams get their foreigner affairs in order

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KBO teams get their foreigner affairs in order


Andy Van Hekken, Rick VandenHurk, Eric Thames

It has been a busy off-season for Korea’s professional baseball clubs. While keeping an eye on the free-agent market that opened on Thursday, Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) teams had to finalize decisions regarding their foreign players.

The baseball clubs were required to report to the KBO by Tuesday on whether they would offer contracts to their foreign players, and they are supposed to conclude negotiations by the end of the year.

Established teams are allowed to have three foreigners on their rosters, while new teams can have four in their first two seasons.

The KT Wiz, which is coming up to the KBO from the second-division Futures League, took the lead by signing pitcher Phil Irwin of the Texas Rangers for $550,000 and third baseman Andy Marte of the Arizona Diamondbacks for $600,000.

As a new team in the first division league, KT will gets two more foreigner slots. One of them will go to left-hander Andrew Sisco, who joined the Wiz in June and posted a 3-1 record and 2.93 ERA.

The Samsung Lions, who won both the regular season and the Korean Series for the fourth consecutive year, are retaining their ace, Rick VandenHurk, who led the league with a 3.18 ERA and 180 strikeouts. They will also bring back Series MVP Yamaico Navarro.

But pitcher John Dale Martin will not be back. Martin joined the Lions last December, a year after he was named MVP of the Triple A International League in 2012. With the Lions, he was 9-6 and posted a 4.78 ERA.

The Nexen Heroes, who lost to Samsung in the Korean Series, plan to bring back Andy Van Hekken, the league’s only 20-game winner, and Henry Sosa, who was 10-2 with a 4.61 ERA. The Heroes released outfielder Vinny Rottino and signed outfielder Brad Snyder for $380,000. Snyder played this year with the LG Twins.

The third-place NC Dinos had four foreign players in 2015, their second season, but they will be allowed only three next year. The team announced on Tuesday it would extend contract offers to all four to keep its options open.

The Dinos would most likely bring back outfielder Eric Thames, who batted .343 and hit 37 homers this season, and pitcher Charlie Shirek, who was 12-8 with a 3.81 ERA. The team’s other two foreigners are pitchers Thad Weber and Eric Hacker.

The LG Twins, who finished fourth, will keep pitcher Cory Riordan, who was 9-10 with a 3.96 ERA. Outfielder Snyder signed with Nexen Heroes, and pitcher Everett Teaford will depart.

LG announced Tuesday it has signed Lucas Harrell of the Reno Aces of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League for $900,000. Harrell will join the team in January if he passes a physical exam scheduled for Thursday.

The SK Wyverns decided to keep their only pitcher Travis Banwart, who went 9-1 with a 3.11 ERA.

The Doosan Bears will keep pitchers Dustin Nippert (14-7, 3.81 ERA) and Yunesky Maya (2-4, 4.86 ERA). The team apparently was not satisfied with infielder Jorge Cantu, who hit .309 with 18 homers, and will release him.

The Lotte Giants said they will extend a contract to their only pitcher Chris Oxspring, who threw 184 1/3 innings this season, second most in the KBO. He finished with a record of 10-8 and a 4.20 ERA. Pitcher Shane Youman, who posted 12-10 with a 5.93 ERA in his third season with the Giants, and infielder Luis Jimenez are leaving the team.

The last-place Hanhwa Eagles will bring back outfielder Felix Pie and release foreign pitchers Andrew Albers and Ryan Tatusko. The new manager, Kim Sung-keun, is reportedly looking for two replacement pitchers.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]
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