|Kim Jae-hwan of the Doosan Bears. (Photo from Teller report)|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] SEOUL: Former MVPs and major league players are among 14 free agents in South Korean baseball this winter. The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) announced Thursday 14 out of 19 players eligible for the free agency had decided to exercise their rights. Those 14 are free to sign deals starting Friday.
The 2018 regular season MVP Kim Jae-hwan is entering the open market for the first time at age 33 after 14 years with the Doosan Bears. Kim had 27 home runs and 102 RBIs – the fifth time in the past six years that he had at least 20 homers and 100 RBIs -- while batting .274/.382/.501. Since 2016, no KBO player has driven in more runs than Kim's 678. He ranks second overall with 188 home runs in that span. Park Byung-ho, who won MVPs in 2012 and 2013, and played for the Minnesota Twins in 2016, is also a free agent for the first time.
The former LG Twins draft pick thrived after a trade to the Nexen (currently Kiwoom) Heroes in 2011. The 35-year-old first baseman had 20 home runs this year, his eighth straight season of at least 20 dingers, but saw his slugging percentage and on-base percentage dip for a third consecutive season.