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S. Korean signs with Yankees, with spring training invitation

All News 08:38 January 16, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korean free agent Choi Ji-man has signed with the New York Yankees, with an invitation to spring training, his agency said Monday.

GSM said Choi signed for US$700,000 and will get a chance to compete for a big league job in spring training. If he makes the major league roster, then Choi will receive an additional $400,000 in incentives, GSM added.

The 25-year-old elected for free agency last week instead of accepting an assignment to the minors in the Los Angeles Angels system. The Angels designated him for assignment last month to make room for a new outfielder, Ben Revere, on their 40-man roster, and no club claimed Choi off the waiver wire.

Choi made his major league debut with the Halos last year after five seasons in the minors, and split his time between first base and outfield. Choi batted just .170 with five home runs in 54 games.

In this file photo taken on July 15, 2016, Choi Ji-man, then of the Los Angeles Angels, singles against the Chicago White Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim, California. (Yonhap)

An official with GSM said the Angels guaranteed Choi "a substantial amount of money" if he choses to stay with the organization, but Choi chose free agency to give himself a better chance to reach the majors. Choi received offers from 10 clubs, including the Milwaukee Brewers, the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals, before joining the Bronx Bombers. GSM said the Yankees had also shown interest in Choi in the winter of 2015, but the player chose not to sign, with veteran Mark Teixeira, coming off his ninth 30-homer season, still in the mix.

And following Teixeira's retirement after last season, Choi will be battling two other young prospects at first base: Greg Bird and Tyler Austin.

Bird, 24, hit 11 homers in 46 games as a rookie in 2015 but missed all of 2016 with a right shoulder injury. Austin, 25, played his first major league game last year and batted .241 with five home runs in 31 games.

Through his agency, Choi thanked the Yankees for their choice and said he'll try to enjoy a better 2017 season than 2016.


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