By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Dec. 28 (Yonhap) -- With at least one major league offer in tow, the posted South Korean All-Star shortstop Kim Ha-seong departed for the United States on Monday with his deadline to land a big league deal fast approaching.
A-Spec Corporation, the Seoul-based agency for the Kiwoom Heroes' slugger, confirmed an earlier report that Kim left for the U.S. on Monday.
Kim, a 25-year-old coming off his first 30-homer season, was posted on Dec. 2. Under the terms of the posting agreement between the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) and Major League Baseball (MLB), Kim must sign a deal within a 30-day negotiating period. It ends at 5 p.m. Eastern Time on New Year's Day.
"He isn't traveling just to speak with one club," an official with the agency said. "Right now, he needs to be in the U.S. because the posting deadline is coming up."
Though Kim is headed to the U.S., an industry source said Kim has received a multiyear offer from the Toronto Blue Jays, the only major league club based in Canada. The New York Mets, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers are other teams reportedly interested in Kim.
Kim's big league negotiations are being handled by Independent Sports & Entertainment (ISE).
If Kim can't come to an agreement by Jan. 1, he must return to the Heroes and won't be eligible to be posted again until November 2021.
Kim earned his posting eligibility this year by completing his seventh full KBO season, and it was also his most productive campaign to date.
He batted .306/.397/.523 to set career highs in on-base and slugging percentages, while falling .001 point shy of matching his personal best in batting average.
Kim belted a career-high 30 home runs, and his 109 RBIs and 111 runs scored were the second-highest totals of his career. Kim swiped 23 bags for his second career 20-20 season and set a KBO record by stealing his first 20 bases without getting caught. For the first time in his career, Kim had more walks (75) than strikeouts (68).
Should Kim sign, the Heroes will receive a fee depending on the guaranteed amount of Kim's contract.
S. Korea left seeking improvements after 4 pre-World Cup friendlies in June
S. Korean LPGA stars off-kilter with Tokyo Olympics nearing
One gone, three in minor league in challenging season for KBO's foreign hitters
N. Korea's withdrawal from Tokyo Olympics dampens hope for renewing inter-Korean sports cooperation
Systemic changes necessary to eliminate violence in S. Korean school sports: experts