January 11, 2021 11:15
Na Sung-bum of the NC Dinos failed to realize his dream of playing in Major League Baseball in the U.S., as the month-long posting period ended on Sunday.
Na was posted for MLB teams early last month but could not strike a deal with any of the 30 teams. He signed with U.S. sports agent Scott Boras in 2018 to explore the possibility of playing in the MLB.
"I was happy to have a chance to come very close to realizing my long-term dream. It would be a lie to say that I'm not disappointed, but I don't have many regrets. I believe another opportunity will come, and I will now focus on helping my team to defend the title," Na said.
Na recorded a batting average of 0.324, 34 home runs and 112 runs with the Dinos last season, helping the team win both the regular season and the Korean Series for the first time in its history.
He moved to Los Angeles last month while training privately and waiting for offers. However, a number of factors worked against him, including his history of injuries, his age, MLB teams' underestimation of Asian outfielders, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has strained MLB teams' finances.
Na ruptured a cruciate ligament in his right knee while sliding into base in May 2019, forcing him to sit out the rest of the season and to play most of last season as a designated hitter. The injury led to doubts over Na's ability to make it through a long season.
Na will soon return to Korea and negotiate a new salary with the Dinos. His salary was W500 million last year, but a huge raise is expected as he was pivotal in NC's triumphant season (US$1=W1,092). He will become a free agent at the end of the upcoming season, giving him another chance to seek an offer from a Major League team. If he is to realize his dream, however, he will need to perform even better this season than last.
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