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KBO to have most players, highest average salary in 2013

All Headlines 10:13 February 08, 2013

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Feb. 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top baseball league will have a record number of players in 2013, with the average player salary also at an all-time high, the league office said Friday.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) announced that a record 553 players for nine clubs have been registered as of Friday, up from 530 last year.

The addition of the ninth club, the NC Dinos, for the upcoming season has led to the increase in the number of players. The Dinos are the KBO's first expansion team since 1991.

The KBO said five players -- one each for the Doosan Bears and the Lotte Giants, and three for the Dinos -- remain unsigned.

According to the league, the average salary for players, except for 14 foreign players and 68 rookies, came to a record 94.9 million won (US$87,023), up from 94.4 million in 2012.

Foreign players and first-year players are excluded from the total because salary caps apply to their annual contracts. Teams can sign foreign natives for no more than $300,000 per season, and the maximum annual salary for rookies is 24 million won.

First baseman Kim Tae-kyun of the Hanwha Eagles is the highest-paid player this year with 1.5 billion won, followed by first baseman Lee Seung-yeop of the Samsung Lions at 800 million won.

Both players have previously played in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

The KBO also said 121 players will receive more than 100 million won this season, and that's also an all-time record. Last year, 112 players were in that category.

The Lions, which have won the past two KBO championships, have the highest payroll among nine teams with 6.7 billion won, and also the highest average salary per player with 122 million won.

The KBO teams are owned and operated by private corporations, including major conglomerates such as Samsung, LG, SK and Doosan. The league has enjoyed an unprecedented boom at the gate in recent seasons. In 2012, the eight teams combined to draw about 7.1 million fans, an all-time record.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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