Korean outfielder Ah-seop Son plans to enter the posting system this winter in order to jump from the Korea Baseball Organization to Major League Baseball, reports Yahoo’s Jeff Passan. Son, a 27-year-old corner outfielder for KBO’s Lotte Giants, is being represented by agent Rick Thurman of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, per Passan.
The left-handed-hitting Son has batted .324/.412/.476 with 12 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 476 plate appearances this season, walking at a 13 percent clip while striking out in 19.5 percent of his plate appearances. Son has batted .306 or better for the past six seasons in KBO, posting a cumulative batting line of .330/.405/.471 that closely mirrors his overall production from the 2015 campaign.
Son will look to follow in the footsteps of Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang, whose four-year, $11MM contract and $5MM posting fee have proved to be perhaps this past offseason’s greatest bargain. Of course, it’s somewhat understandable that interest in Kang was mixed, as he’s the first position player to make the jump from KBO to MLB. Many questioned whether or not his prodigious power would translate to the Majors or if it was simply a product of the KBO’s notoriously hitter-friendly league. While Kang’s power didn’t necessarily translate, he has, as Passan notes, certainly performed well enough that clubs may be less wary of taking on hitters from Korea’s top professional league.
Korean players are subject to the traditional posting system in which all 30 clubs must submit blind bids, with the team that submits the highest amount being given a 30-day window to then negotiate a contract. Should the team and Son’s representatives at BHSC fail to reach a deal, the posting fee would be returned to the MLB team that submitted the winning bid, and Son would return to KBO.
If a team is unable to work out a deal with Son, however, he could still find himself in the Majors eventually. KBO players become unrestricted free agents following their ninth full season, after which they’re free to negotiate with all 30 MLB clubs. For Son, that would come after the 2017 season. Though he’s technically appeared in parts of nine pro seasons, he didn’t earn enough service time in his first few years to become eligible until after 2017.