TODAY: Na won’t be officially posted for a few more days, as to Jeeho Yoo reports that MLB has asked the Dinos for more medical documentation. Specifically, Dinos general manager Jong-Moon Kim said the league wants more information about Na’s 2019 knee surgery, including a report from the surgeon who performed the procedure. There isn’t expected to be any major obstacle to Na’s posting, as Kim said “I’ve been told by the KBO this is just the routine and par for the course.”
NOVEMBER 30: The NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization have asked the league to post outfielder/designated hitter Sung-Bum Na for Major League teams, Jee-ho Yoo of South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reports. Once the posting is made official by the two leagues, MLB clubs will have 30 days to negotiate with Na. Yoo reported earlier this year that Na had hired the Boras Corporation to represent him during the posting process.
Na, 31, just wrapped up an outstanding effort with the KBO champion Dinos, hitting .324/.390/.596 with 34 homers, 37 doubles and a pair of triples in 584 plate appearances. (Those interested can check out some 2020 highlights from Na on YouTube). He did strike out at a career-high 25.3 percent clip in that time against an 8.3 percent walk rate, although the career 21.3 percent strikeout rate he carried into the 2020 season is a bit more palatable.
Na has been an above-average hitter in KBO since his second year in the league and a star-level performer for much of that time. In 4140 career plate appearances since debuting as a 23-year-old, he’s batted .317/.384/.542 with 179 home runs, 244 doubles and 25 triples.
Early in his career, Na was a center fielder, playing the position on a full-time basis for the Dinos in 2013-14. He moved to right field for the 2015 campaign, and that’s been his primary defensive home since, although he’s still logged some occasional time in center — most recently in 2019 when he started 18 games there. However, Na’s 2019 season was cut short by a severe knee injury that resulted in him being placed on a stretcher and taken off the field in an ambulance, as he told ESPN’s Marly Rivera earlier this year. He underwent surgery and spent seven months rehabbing from that procedure.
Fresh off that knee surgery, Na spent more time as a designated hitter in 2020 than ever before, logging only 50 of the 130 games he played in right field. He also attempted a career-low four stolen bases; in his last full season in 2018, Na was 15-for-17 in that department. All of that is certainly understandable for a player coming off a major knee surgery, but those are also red flags that hamper his earning power with MLB clubs — even if Na enjoyed the most productive season of his career at the plate.
Sports Info Solutions’ Ted Baarda recently profiled Na (and a few other KBO hitters), praising his plus left-handed power and ability to consistently hit for average. Baarda notes that Na was a pitcher in college and still has a plus arm in right field, but he also writes that Na’s range and athleticism both took a step a back in 2020 following the surgery. The Boras camp will surely push that as a one-year aberration. That may well be the case, but it could still be a tough sell for MLB clubs. Back in May, Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser ranked Na fifth among KBO “prospects” who could plausibly jump to the Majors in the near future. Glaser touted Na’s pull power and throwing arm but noted some struggles against offspeed pitches.
During Na’s 30-day posting window, he’ll be able to negotiate with all 30 MLB clubs. In addition to the actual contract paid to Na, the team that eventually signs him will also owe a posting fee to the Dinos. That fee would be equal to 20 percent of the contract’s first $25MM, plus 17.5 percent of the next $25MM and 15 percent of any dollars thereafter. That fee is in addition to the contract — not deducted from the contract itself.