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(LEAD) Ex-KBO MVP Kim Jae-hwan to be posted for MLB clubs

Sports 13:39 December 05, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS details at bottom)
By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Dec. 5 (Yonhap) -- After slugging his way around South Korean baseball for years, MVP-winning outfielder Kim Jae-hwan now wants to see how he stacks up against big league pitching.

The Doosan Bears announced Thursday they have asked the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) to post Kim for Major League Baseball (MLB) teams, making the 31-year-old slugger available for any interested clubs.

Once the administrative work is done, Kim, the 2018 regular season MVP, will be the second KBO player to be posted this offseason, joining SK Wyverns' left-hander Kim Kwang-hyun.

The deadline to post a player falls on Thursday in U.S. Eastern Time (ET), giving Kim's camp one day to prepare the player's medical documents and other paperwork.

In this file photo from Nov. 11, 2019, Kim Jae-hwan of South Korea connects for a three-run home run against the United States in the bottom of the first inning of the teams' Super Round game at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier12 at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo. (Yonhap)

The Bears said Kim had told the team about his desire to play in MLB after the conclusion of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier12 tournament in November. The Bears said they met with Kim's agent a few times before deciding to grant the player's wish.

Under the posting system, any interested MLB team will be able to negotiate with Kim during a 30-day negotiating period, which will begin at 8 a.m. ET on the morning after MLB officially notifies its 30 clubs of Kim's availability. The window will close at 5 p.m. ET on the 30th day.

"I don't know which teams will show interest in me or how I am going to be evaluated, but I am just thankful for this opportunity," Kim said in a statement released by the Bears. "Every baseball player dreams of reaching the majors. I'd like to thank the Bears for allowing me to take on this challenge."

Kim's decision comes as a surprise, given that he had a down year offensively in 2019.

Kim batted .283/.362/.434, with 15 home runs and 91 RBIs. They pale in comparison to stats during his MVP season in 2018, when he slashed .334/.405/.657 with 44 home runs and 133 RBIs, both best in the KBO.

Three South Korean players signed major league deals via posting: pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin (Los Angeles Dodgers) in 2012, infielder Kang Jung-ho (Pittsburgh Pirates) in 2015 and infielder Park Byung-ho (Minnesota Twins) in 2015.

Kim's Seoul-based agency, Sportizen, said the player will be represented in the U.S. by Creative Artists Agency (CAA) Sports. The Los Angeles-based firm boasts two-time reigning National League (NL) Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom and former NL MVP Buster Posey as its clients. CAA also helped Japanese two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani sign with the Los Angeles Angels through posting before the 2018 season.

Sportizen said CAA Sports first took interest in Kim in 2016, and the U.S. agency has compiled a scouting report on Kim to send to major league clubs.

In this file photo from Oct. 26, 2019, Kim Jae-hwan of the Doosan Bears celebrates an RBI single against the Kiwoom Heroes in the top of the 10th inning of Game 4 of the Korean Series at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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