Korean third baseman Jae-gyun Hwang has drawn quite a bit of notoriety for an enormous bat flip on a game-tying home run last month, but the Lotte Giants infielder should probably be drawing recognition for the fact that he could be posted this winter following what is shaping up to be a monster age-27 campaign in Korea. Hwang, who just turned 28, won the KBO home run derby and is currently batting .302/.352/.570 with 22 homers through 414 plate appearances. It’s true that the KBO is a very hitter-friendly environment, but Hwang’s numbers are nonetheless impressive. The fact that Pirates shortstop Jung Ho Kang has transitioned well to the Major Leagues could also help Hwang’s case this offseason, if posted. Hwang’s team does have incentive to post him, as he can become a true free agent following the 2016 season, at which point he could leave without the Giants receiving any compensation for one of their best players. It’s not certain that Hwang will end up being posted, of course, but given the relative dearth of free agent options at third base this winter, one can imagine teams showing interest in Hwang if he does become available.
A few more notes on some international players…
- Cuban outfielder Yusniel Diaz registered with the commissioner’s office to file for free agency prior to May 15 of this year and, as such, should become eligible for free agency during the current signing period, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. The 18-year-old should have won the Serie Nacional Rookie of the Year Award in Cuba in the opinion of many, but he defected after the season and was not honored. He hit .348/.447/.440 in his lone pro season in Cuba and would be subject to international spending limitations upon reaching free agency. Badler’s article also contains a highlight video of Diaz for those interested in catching a glimpse of the potential big leaguer.
- Badler also has a highlight video of right-hander Yaisel Sierra, adding that the 23-year-old pitcher has established residency in a new country and is merely waiting to be declared a free agent by Major League Baseball. When that happens in the next couple of months, Sierra will be exempt from bonus pools and can sign a Major League deal for the any amount of money or length of time a team is willing to offer. We’ve had several notes on Sierra over the past few months here at MLBTR.
- Badler offers an additional look at outfielder Randy Arozarena and shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez (the 21-year-old defensive wizard that did win Rookie of the Year honors after Diaz’s defection). Arozarena already has residency in Mexico and could be declared a free agent in the coming months (he’s subject to bonus pools), while the light-hitting Rodriguez is further removed from free agency (he, too, will be subject to international bonus pools).