December 11, 2012 09:57
Hanwha Eagles ace pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin became the first player to move directly from the Korean professional league to Major League Baseball on Sunday by inking a six-year deal with the LA Dodgers worth US$36 million, including a $5 million signing fee.
Based on his performance, Ryu may also be eligible for an annual bonus of $1 million, taking his earning potential over the period with the club to a whopping $42 million.
Ryu is the fourth Korean player to become a Dodger after Park Chan-ho, who recently retired, Kia Tigers' Seo Jae-weong and Choi Hee-seop. Ryu will officially join the Dodgers at an official press conference in the Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.
Ryu's average yearly payroll is $6 million, well over this year's MLB average of $3.44 million. The Dodgers gave Ryu the No. 99 jersey, the same number he had in Korea, as a present when the two sides first met. The club also offered to arrange a personal interpreter for the player to help him adjust to playing in the U.S.
Despite his huge salary jump, however, Ryu will still be subject to high L.A. taxes. As both a high-income earner and a single man with no dependents, he is likely to have to hand over around 35 percent of his salary in federal and state taxes. He also owes his agent, Scott Boras, five percent of the overall deal, which cuts out another $1.8 million. As such, he is only expected to take home half of what he gets paid his first year.
The Dodgers already have a star-studded starting rotation including Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano.
Ryu is one of eight possible starting pitchers. Of them, five make over $10 million a year, and five have recorded at least 10 wins this year. For Ryu to prosper in the MLB he needs to perform well in the fiercely competitive spring camp. If not, he may lose out in the battle for a starting spot, meaning he has no time to lose in adapting to life in the Majors.
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