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(LEAD) All-Stars among 18 eligible for baseball free agency

All Headlines 14:29 November 07, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 13-14)
By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Nov. 7 (Yonhap) -- A handful of All-Stars, including a former MVP-winning ace who knocked on major league doors, headlined the list of 18 players eligible for free agency in South Korean baseball, released on Monday by the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO).

They have until Wednesday to notify the league office whether they will exercise their rights and test the open market this winter.

On the list are 2008 league MVP Kim Kwang-hyun of the SK Wyverns, Kia Tigers' left-hander Yang Hyeon-jong, Samsung Lions' outfielder Choi Hyoung-woo and Lotte Giants' infielder Hwang Jae-gyun.

From left: Kim Kwang-hyun of the SK Wyverns, Choi Hyoung-woo of the Samsung Lions and Yang Hyeon-jong of the Kia Tigers are among 18 players eligible for free agency in the Korea Baseball Organization. (Yonhap)

Kim, 28, entered contract talks with the San Diego Padres in 2014 after getting posted for interested big league clubs. Their negotiations fell through, however, and Kim returned to the Wyverns.

If he wanted to take another crack, Kim won't have to go through the posting this year.

Kim was 11-8 with a 3.88 ERA this year but was limited to 137 innings with elbow problems. He is 108-63 with a 3.41 ERA in his 10-year career.

The same goes for Yang, who also entered the posting process in 2014. An unidentified club won the right to negotiate with the pitcher, but the Tigers refused to accept the winning bid.

Yang, 28, went 10-12 this year with a 3.68 ERA, his third straight season with at least 10 wins. He also set a career high with 200 1/3 innings pitched.

Among the hitters, Choi, 32, is coming off one of his most productive seasons. The likely MVP candidate won the batting title with a .376 average while hitting 31 home runs and driving in a career-high 144 runs.

The outfielder also set personal bests with a .464 on-base percentage, a .651 slugging percentage, 99 runs scored, 195 hits and 46 doubles.

Hwang, 29, was posted last year but didn't draw any bid. He batted .335 with 27 home runs and 113 RBIs in 2016, all career highs, and has left for Florida to reportedly meet with interested major league clubs.

Among other free agents, Doosan Bears shortstop Kim Jae-ho could hit the jackpot. One of the steadiest defenders at his position, Kim put up his biggest offensive numbers across the board in 2016, with career highs of 27 doubles, 78 RBIs and 183 total bases. The 31-year-old captained the Bears to their second straight Korean Series championship last week.

LG Twins pitcher Woo Kyu-min could also attract some suitors thanks to his versatility. The right-hander with a sidearm delivery can start and pitch out of the bullpen, and has a career mark of 56-58 with 65 saves and a 3.74 ERA in 11 seasons.

A club that signs a free agent must pay the player's previous club hefty compensation -- either paying twice the amount of the player's 2016 salary and sending a player not on the protected list, or paying three times the amount of the player's 2016 salary.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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