By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Nov. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korean baseball club Lotte Giants on Monday asked the league office to post their All-Star outfielder Son Ah-seop for major league teams.
The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) will later inform Major League Baseball (MLB) of Son's status. The 27-year-old will then be put up for a silent auction and MLB clubs have four business days to submit their bids.
MLB will later notify the KBO of the highest bid, and the Giants will have four business days to decide whether to accept or reject it.
One of the KBO's most consistent contact hitters, Son batted. 317 with 13 home runs, 54 RBIs and 11 steals in 116 games this year. He's a career .323 hitter with an improving defense in right field, and has hit at least .300 in each of his past six seasons. He led the KBO in hits in 2012 and 2013.
He posted an on-base percentage of .406 this year and has a career mark of .398. Known for his ability to put the ball in play, Son's career strikeout rate is 15.7 percent, with 555 strikeouts in 3,542 career plate appearances.
Son has averaged 12 home runs, 69 RBIs and 16 steals over the past five years. He has won four Golden Gloves, which are awarded to players based on their overall performances, not just their defense.
According to the Giants, MLB clubs will bid until Nov. 20, Korean time. The Giants will learn of the winning bid on Nov. 21, and will then have until Nov. 26 to make their decision.
The bidding winner will have a 30-day window to negotiate a contract with Son. The identity of that club, however, will only be revealed if the Giants accept the posting fee.
If the MLB club and Son come to an agreement, the Giants will keep the posting fee. If not, the money is returned to the big league club, and Son can't be posted again until Nov. 1, 2016. He will then have the option of returning to the Giants or entering contract talks with any interested club in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).
If the Giants reject the bid, Park will be ruled ineligible for posting until Nov. 1, 2016. The identity of the winning bidder and the amount of the bid will also not be disclosed.
Son, who debuted in 2007 and completed the equivalent of seven full seasons in 2015, is the second KBO player to be posted this offseason. Earlier this month, Park Byung-ho, first baseman for the Nexen Heroes, drew a bid of US$12.85 million from the Minnesota Twins, and has until 5 p.m. Dec. 8, Eastern Standard Time, to come to an agreement with the big league club.
Son's Lotte teammate, third baseman Hwang Jae-gyun, is also hoping to be posted this offseason. Under the KBO rules, a club may only post one player at a time, and ship one player to an overseas league per offseason.
This means if Son signs a major league deal via posting, Hwang can't be posted this winter. The Giants decided earlier to post Son ahead of Hwang based on their performances over the past five years.
Both Son and Hwang are playing for South Korea at the ongoing Premier 12 tournament in Taiwan. The final is scheduled for Nov. 21, if South Korea gets there.
Son is scheduled to begin his four-week basic military training on Nov. 23, just after the bidding closes. Son has received an exemption from the mandatory military service after winning the 2014 Asian Games gold medal, and athletes who earn their way out of the service that way must still complete the four-week training. Pro athletes usually do so during the offseason.
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