The Korea Baseball Organization has announced notable new restrictions on spending relating to foreign players, as Yonhap News reports (h/t to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net). In particular, the rules establish stringent limitations on what KBO clubs can offer players who are not already on their rosters.
Increasingly in recent years, the KBO has represented an intriguing possibility for players who have struggled to establish themselves in the majors. In addition to earning some added money and getting to play a leading role in a country’s highest-level league, the opportunity has functioned as a platform for a return to the majors in many instances.
For KBO clubs, the process of luring players from other parts of the world offers an important means of boosting their rosters. Transfer fees allow MLB organizations to get a piece of the action as well, in instances where the player at issue is under contractual control on this side of the Pacific.
Now, KBO clubs will be limited to a $1MM total outlay, and a one-season commitment, in adding non-Korean players to a roster. That amount includes all financial commitments to the player and any transfer fee paid. The new rules stipulate that multi-year contracts cannot be promised to players outside an organization.
Importantly, once a foreign player has joined a KBO organization, a multi-year arrangement will be possible. That’s available in an extension scenario or for a player who is re-signing with the particular team that signed them originally. Players looking to join another KBO team via free agency, though, will still face the new restrictions.
Importantly, the KBO already imposes a roster limitation on its member teams. Each club may carry only three foreign players. With ten organizations, that means there are at most thirty spots to go around. (Click here for a list of current players and their statistical performances.) Now, there’ll be some important new restrictions on how spending for those openings occurs. While it’s generally typical for foreign players to sign one-year deals, at least upon going to the KBO in the first instance, the initial salary ceiling and intra-KBO spending restrictions will surely change the landscape.
It seems the justifications here are much like those we’re accustomed to hearing for North American sports. The idea, as the article puts it, is to “curb teams’ spending on imports and to ensure fair competition.” It’ll also mean that the KBO isn’t as readily able to attract and retain its top targets, though teams that find players they like will be in a position to double down on their initial commitments through larger or lengthier ensuing contracts.
Can you imagine the outcry in this country if MLB did the same thing against foreign players? Or even if they had a roster limit for foreign players like the KBO. Lawsuits would be coming from every direction possible.
It happens in junior hockey with imports. I get it’s an amateur sport, but it’s probably a good comparison to a league like the KBO.
And the MLB actually kind of did this with the new rules on IFA’s. Ohtani probably would’ve got over 50 million had they not changed the rules.
It’ not really the same though. Foreign prospects are treated pretty much the same as draft prospects in this country. Ohtani, as celebrated as he was, was still just the age of the average college junior getting drafted. Those players do not get open market contracts either. Plus, once Ohtani goes through the arbitration process like everyone else, he will not be limited in salary at all. So in reality the IFAs are really treated exactly the same as draft picks except they usually get a head start on the process.
Arbitration does limit salaries – there’s a heavy leaning towards past cases as the structure for who gets what. An example of how it limits, is Mookie Betts – he filed for 10.5mil, Boston filed for 7.5mil, when the reality is, he would have gotten 25mil on the open market for a one year deal.
It’s not a “hard cap” where he can’t earn over X by the letter of the law, but it is limited by the parameters.
Except he had the option to just wait and sign for whatever the market would offer when he was old enough. That’s a rather poor comparison.
That’s kind of the same for foreigners going to Korea though. They only have to wait one year to get that extension and money…
The fact that MLB wouldn’t do that is part of what makes it a superior league. Extremely homogeneous country vs diverse country, with leagues that reflect that.
MLS utilizes this kind of restriction at its highest level (i.e., not just amateur player intake).
Not a restriction like this in price or years.
This is the first thing that came to my mind.
I don’t see a problem with that for the first year. I mean, if you think about it, outside of bonuses if any, league minimum is how everyone starts now
Using the logic that the MLB is considered the best baseball league in the world, which I’m sure you’d agree, your argument seems needlessly antagonistic.
I assume that was directed to me. Yes I will agree to that. So instead of MLB, just substitute the Northern League in the example and tell me that there would not be an outcry.
KBO’s are not appropriate and MLB should say so if they’re going to continue to have a business relationship with them. Just like Japan, they’re afraid they’re loosing “their” game because if salaries increase too much, foreign born players will dominate their league.
And not a damn thing wrong with that.
When I go to Korea, I don’t want to eat McDonald’s — I want to eat Korean food, meet Korean people, and experience Korean culture, not some globally homogenized monoculture.
No reason for baseball to be different. Good on the KBO..
So if we said, only American’s in MLB you’d be ok with that? If your answer is yes then we have nothing left to discuss. Your ignorance is glowing.
Sometimes these limitations are put in place to save the people from themselves. Most of the league might want to operate within a certain funding level while you get a big spender that blows everybody out of the water and it makes things unlevel again.
That appears to be the case with white male MLB front offices.
I don’t like that argument, but I can at least respect it. My problem with it is that if you want it to be JUST a Korean homogenized league, then don’t don’t have any foreign players. I’d still not like it, but I’d have a lot less problem than with this. This is purely about placing a limit on someone’s salary because of their nationality. That is just despicable.
“So if we said, only American’s in MLB you’d be ok with that?”
It’s not an issue in MLB. Something like 70% of the best players in the world come from the US, and so we can have it both ways — open to everyone, but still mostly guys from here. MLB’s purpose is to be the highest level of the game, and American fans are OK with having 30% of the league be foreign-born.
The KBO exists to serve the Korean market. They’re under no illusion that they are the highest level of baseball (or even 2nd). They’re the highest level in their country, and they want the focus to be on their guys. Having foreign players with no connection to the culture/league/team come in, dominate, and then leave (sometimes midseason, leaving their team in the lurch) isn’t great for marketing,
Different goals, different countries, different situations.
“My problem with it is that if you want it to be JUST a Korean homogenized league, then don’t don’t have any foreign players.”
You might as well say “if you like pepperoni on your pizza, you should eat NOTHING BUT pepperoni.” Just because you want a little bit of something doesn’t mean you want all of it.
Having two or three foreigners on the team is interesting. They usually bring a different style of play, and they make for interesting measuring sticks for the local players. .Having the whole team populated by foreign mercenaries is something else.
“This is purely about placing a limit on someone’s salary because of their nationality.”
Players willing to make a long-term commitment to the KBO are eligible to be paid like everyone else. All they’re doing is limiting the ability of AAAA types to fly in, cash a fat paycheck for a couple months work while not truly involving themselves with the league/team/culture, and then cut out whenever they want.
So if people want America to remain white, english speaking, and culturally homogeneous, that’s no longer racist? Just trying to keep up on the rules here
A pause at the notion of globalization and the destruction of entire national cultures is not ignorance, rather the opposite. The world is evolving but diversity and cultural identity are things to discuss, enjoy, and value. If you cannot at least see the importance, even if you don’t necessarily agree, then you are proving to be the ignorant one.
No one “wants” to play in Korea, players “end up” in Korea.
Way to dilute your talent pool.
Really short sighted. KBO teams compete with each other for imports, but equally they compete with Japan for the same guys. While KBO is an inferior league, the gap is narrowing. Now Japanese scouts know they can always beat out the Koreans for the same player. In an effort to force parity, nice Job tying an arm behind your back to hurt your own scouts and devolve your own league.
I had the same thought. They had been gaining ground on NPB. Now that’s out the window
Foreign players don’t bat flip as well as the Korean players. There shouldn’t be more than 3 on a team. I’m totally good with this
This is a horrible business decision. While I understand the concept of trying to put local players first, but a lot of players coming from America are huge draws for crowds resulting in more income.
You cut the amount of non-Korean players, you cut international recognition resulting in less revenue.
Very poor business move, and could be good for other international markets like Japan.
“a lot of players coming from America are huge draws for crowds resulting in more income.”
Having lived in Korea and attended many KBO games, this is completely false. A handful of western players become fan favorites, but the idea that people throng to the ballpark to see AAAA players from the west is nonsense. A good number of Korean fans would like to see foreigners banned completely.
USA should work on a tariff… just kidding, lighten up will ya! But in all seriousness, this isn’t a good business move on the part of the KBO for several of the reasons already listed by other commenters.
Where’s the cry of racism?
Are they trying to improve the level of play or maintain a homogeneous league? Allowing superior foreign players to play will only advance the level of play by homegrown talent otherwise it’ll always be A or AA level play.
where is our president? not a word. he should have been dealing with this. of course this is just protectionist bs