November 12, 2012 10:09
Ryu Hyun-jin came one step closer to realizing his dream of playing in Major League Baseball over the weekend due to an unprecedented level of interest shown in a Korean pitcher by a top U.S. club.
The MLB announced on Sunday on its website that the Los Angeles Dodgers earned the exclusive rights to negotiate a contract with Ryu for 30 days after they bid US$25.7 million.
The Hanwha Eagles immediately accepted the offer after being notified of the bid for Ryu by the Korea Baseball Organization.
Ryu, who will negotiate details of the contract through his agent Scott Boras, will leave for Los Angeles on Wednesday.
The winning bid of $25.7 million is the fourth-highest sum ever put up in posting in the world's top baseball league. The highest was $51.7 million for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, who joined the Texas Rangers at the end of last year.
The Dodger's bid reflects the strides being made by Korean baseball recently, as the country picked up a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and finished second at the World Baseball Classic in 2009.
The Dodgers hope that acquiring Ryu will revive their fortunes and popularity among Los Angeles's large Korean community, as Park Chan-ho did. Many Korean-Americans came to watch Park play for the Dodgers and the team enjoyed huge marketing success after signing him.
But the winning bid only relates to Ryu's transfer fee and his payroll is a separate matter. Additionally, the deal may fall through if common ground cannot be met during negotiations.
Boras, dubbed a "super agent" for having managed to ink impressive deals for big leaguers, has already put pressure on the Dodgers -- via an interview with the Los Angeles Times on Sunday -- by saying that if Ryu is not satisfied with the offer, he will return to Korea and try again two years later when he becomes a free agent.
It is uncertain how much money the Dodgers will offer. Based on the previous cases of Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka, it could be around $25 million for six years. But Boras is known to want a shorter contract of two to four years, which could lower the total payroll but still net the player $4 million to $5 million a year.
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