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After the Professional Baseball Draft-Dodging Fraud

Posted November. 19, 2004 23:10,   


The draft-dodging fraud has shaken the very foundation of the existence for professional baseball. The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency closed the case after an investigation of over two months, arresting 43 and prosecuting without physical restraint 48 people among the 136 related.

Among them, 50 individuals are currently active professional baseball players and about half are in prison or waiting for trial under arrest. The police have even dispatched the list of those whose statutory limitations have expired to the Military Manpower Administration, and so it seems that the number of professional baseball players that will be entering military service this winter will be at least over 70 among the 500 total, which is nearly 15 percent. Moreover, most of the players are star players.

Consequently, the most important variable for next season is anticipated to be the “draft gate.” The indications are already surfacing.

First of all, the price of free agent (FA) players has rapidly increased. Lim Chang-yong, the closer for Samsung, has recorded the highest price of all time at nine billion won for four years, while Shim Jeong-soo, a big star of Hyundai, is asking for seven billion won. Park Jin-man, a shortstop from Hyundai, has also asked for equal treatment with Lotte Jeong Soo-geun who has made it big at 4.06 billion won for six years, and Samsung infielder Kim Han-soo is launching a nerve war asking for 3.4 billion won, surpassing Ma Hae-young (2.8 billion won) of last year.

Though the closing of negotiations with the players’ original teams has drawn to a close (November 20), the fact that only Shin Dong-joo (400 million won for three years) has signed a contract gives us an idea of the haughtiness of the FA players.

If not for the draft gate, it would have been difficult for Ma Hae-young, returning as a compensational player last winter, to sign a long-term contract with Kia.

The fact that the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) is considering the method of decreasing the number of games next season and increasing the number of foreign player entries is another by-product of the draft gate. Even if the Korean Professional Baseball Player Association agrees on the number of games, the notion that the association is defiantly against the increase in foreign player entries will make the outcome noteworthy.

Hwan Soo Zang zangpabo@donga.com