By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Dec. 20 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean baseball club Nexen Heroes on Saturday said they have accepted a US$5 million bid by a Major League Baseball (MLB) club for their posted shortstop Kang Jung-ho, clearing the path for the slugger to play in the big leagues next season.
The Heroes made the decision just hours after the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) informed them of the result of the MLB-wide silent auction for the 27-year-old player. The Heroes said the amount of the winning bid was $5,002,015.
Kang is the third KBO player to be posted this offseason and the first-ever position player. The winning bid is the second highest amount for a South Korean player, behind the $25.7 million that the Los Angeles Dodgers put in for left-hander Ryu Hyun-jin in 2012. Ryu later signed a six-year deal worth $36 million.
Upon receiving the news of the bid, the Heroes had said earlier on Saturday that they would announce their decision after the weekend. Yet the Seoul-based club wasted little time, and they will soon learn of the identity of the bidding winner.
Following the Heroes' decision, the MLB club with the highest bid will have the exclusive right to negotiate with Kang for 30 days. Should the two sides reach a contract, then the Heroes will pocket the money submitted in the bid for Kang as compensation.
If Kang fails to sign a contract within 30 days, he cannot be posted again until Nov. 1, 2015. He will then have a choice of entering contract talks with interested teams in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) or return to the Heroes for at least one more season.
Kang is represented by Alan Nero, a veteran agent and managing director of the baseball division at Octagon. An informed industry source has told Yonhap News Agency that Nero is seeking a four-year deal worth $5 million per year, a three-year contract for $5.5 million per season or a two-year deal valued at $6 million per season.
Through the Heroes, Kang said he is looking forward to the road ahead.
"I'd like to thank the Heroes and others who've helped me along the way so far," Kang said. "I think this is only the beginning. As the first position player from Korea to be posted, I am excited about the challenges ahead, and I am also feeling a strong sense of responsibility."
Kang completed his equivalent of seven full KBO seasons in 2014 and became eligible for posting.
He enjoyed the best offensive season of his career in 2014. He played in 117 of the team's 128 games and set career-highs with a .356 batting average, 40 home runs and 117 RBIs. The home run and RBI totals were both single-season records by a shortstop in the KBO.
Kang also established new personal bests with 149 hits, 36 doubles, 103 runs scored, a .459 on-base percentage and a .739 slugging percentage.
For his career, Kang is a .298 hitter in 902 games with 139 home runs, 545 RBIs and 51 steals.
Kang, a former catcher, is known for a strong arm but also has a reputation for botching routine plays. Given his lack of agility and range at shortstop, some MLB teams are said to be interested in Kang as a third baseman or a second baseman.
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