Posted November. 14, 2013 07:16,
Kang Min-ho, 28, a catcher at the Lotte Giants, has written a new chapter in contracting as a free agent in the history of Korean professional baseball.
According to Lotte on Wednesday, it has signed a FA contract worth a total of 7.5 billion won (7 million U.S. dollars including 3.3 million dollars in contract deposit and 930,000 dollars in annual salary) for four years. The 7.5 billion won in gross payment is the largest ever amount that exceeds 6 billion won (5.6 million dollars) for a four-year contract that Shim Jeong-soo signed when transferring from the Hyundai Unicorns to the Samsung Lions in 2005. Kang has become the first to sign a contract among the 16 players who applied to exercise their right as 2014 free agents, and thus secured 1 billion won (930,000 dollars) in annual pay. He has become the second player to top 1 billion won in annual salary ever after Kim Tae-gyun of the Hanwha Eagles, who has earned a yearly salary of 1.5 billion won (1.4 million dollars) over the two consecutive years.
Lotte has successfully signed the deal to retain Kang as many as three days prior to the deadline (Saturday) of a preferential negotiating period with his original team, which started on Sunday. Lotte was under harsh criticism from its fans because it failed to sign an FA contact with the teams flagship slugger Lee Dae-ho two years ago, and handed over Kim Joo-chan and Hong Sung-heun to the Kia Tigers and the Doosan Bears, respectively, last year. Lotte took rather prompt action this time apparently for fear that it should face severe ramifications if it loses Kang due to its excessive willing and dealing. Kang also seems to have judged that it would not be desirable for him to be overly ambitious about pay, because he is young and will only be 32 years old even if he regains the right as FA four years later. In its bid to hold up Kang, Lotte informed Kang of its plan to offer the best compensation package to the catcher from the first round of negotiations on Monday.
Kang said, I have been playing baseball happily with my senior and younger teammates, front staff, and fans at Lotte for a long period of 10 years, and since I have received too generous love, I have never thought about leaving the team. I am truly grateful to the team for enabling me to keep my self-confidence despite lackluster performance of the past season, and approaching me with affection and love.
Bae Jae-hoo, chief of the Lotte Giants, said, Because Kang let the team decide on all conditions about his contract from the first round of negotiations, it was difficult to determine the conditions, but since he is a flagship catcher of the Korean league, and has successfully played instrumental role in the team, we tried to offer compensation corresponding to his contributions.