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U.S. pitcher sues ex-club in S. Korea over unpaid buyout

Sports 20:16 February 23, 2019

SEOUL, Feb. 23 (Yonhap) -- An American pitcher is taking his former South Korean club to court in a contract dispute.

Josh Lindblom has sued the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), seeking US$200,000 in a buyout that he claims the club failed to pay in 2017, said the player's attorney, Kim Gyeong-young, on Saturday.

Kim said Lindblom had wanted to settle the case with the Giants but chose to take legal action as the team refused to find the middle ground.

In this file photo from Nov. 12, 2018, Josh Lindblom of the Doosan Bears pitches in the top of the ninth inning against the SK Wyverns in Game 6 of the Korean Series at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Lindblom, currently pitching for another KBO club, the Doosan Bears, made his South Korean debut with the Giants in 2015 on a $900,000 deal. After going 13-11 with a 3.56 ERA in 210 innings, Lindblom signed a new deal for 2016 worth $1.2 million.

The Giants also had an option for the 2017 season at $1.4 million.

But in 2016, the right-hander came up short of matching his numbers from the previous season. He was 10-13 with a 5.28 ERA.

Instead of picking up an option for $1.4 million, the Giants offered him a new deal worth $900,000. Since the Giants had declined to exercise the earlier option, Lindblom sought a $200,000 buyout that he thought he was due.

The Giants countered that their $900,000 offer included the buyout figure. But that means the Giants were actually offering Lindblom $700,000 in guaranteed salary, and that would have been in violation of the KBO rules on foreign player contracts.

The league stipulates that a team intending to re-sign a foreign player must make an offer worth at least 75 percent of the previous deal. Because Lindblom made $1.2 million in 2016, the Giants should have offered him at least $900,000 in guaranteed salary for 2017 if they wanted to retain him.

In this file photo from Oct. 13, 2017, Josh Lindblom, then pitching for the Lotte Giants, celebrates after retiring Na Sung-bum of the NC Dinos in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 4 of their first round playoff series in the Korea Baseball Organization at Masan Stadium in Changwon, 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Lindblom returned to the United States and had a minor league stint in the Pittsburgh Pirates system before rejoining the Giants in July 2017. The right-hander pitched on a $475,000 deal.

The trial is scheduled for March 7 in Busan, the home of the Giants, located 450 kilometers south of Seoul.

In response to Lindblom's suit, the Giants said they'll wait for the court's ruling.

The Giants were also embroiled in a contract dispute with Canadian pitcher Scott Richmond. The right-hander had signed a one-year, $700,000 deal before the 2013 season but suffered a knee injury during spring training. The team cut Richmond and refused to pay him.

In that case, Kim Gyeong-young also represented Richmond, who ended up getting $270,000 from the Giants.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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