February 01, 2021 10:49
It seems nothing can stop pitcher Yang Hyeon-jong of the Kia Tigers from pursuing his lifelong dream of playing in Major League Baseball. He has ended negotiations to renew his contract with the club, with which he has spent his whole professional career since his debut in 2007.
Yang informed the club of his decision on Jan. 30. "I am grateful to the team for understanding and supporting my dream. I also express my sincere thanks to the fans for their passionate support," he said.
Having achieved just about everything a pitcher can do in Korea, the left-hander has decided to embrace the new challenge, but his path to a shot at the big leagues is anything but clear.
Yang, who launched his bid to become a major leaguer in 2014, has received no meaningful offers from the U.S. yet, according to his agent. The player initially rejected a split deal, but this became a big obstacle to making progress in negotiations, so Yang changed his position to accept any kind of a deal that will guarantee him a spot on a team's 40-man roster.
However, the MLB is currently an even more difficult market to break into than usual, with teams experiencing financial troubles due to the coronavirus pandemic. "Finding a spot on a team's 40-man [roster] could still prove to be a tough task," wrote MLBtraderumors.com on Sunday.
If Yang cannot find a team before the beginning of the new season, he will have to remain without one for some time. There is even a chance the minor league season will be put off due to COVID-19. "To be honest, I am a bit scared. But I couldn't give up on what could be my last opportunity to play in the MLB," Yang said.
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