It was created in 1999 and last revised in 2012. Are there any loopholes in the rules for free agents?
The Hanwha Eagles acquired outfielder Lee Myung-ki (36) and catcher Lee Jae-yong (24) through a trade with the NC Dinos on the 14th. What Hanhwa gave away was infielder Cho Hyun-jin (21) and the 7th round nomination for the 2024 rookie draft.
In terms of form, it’s just a trade, but Lee Myung-gi was a free agent (FA) without a team until right before the trade. All 10 clubs, including the original team, did not want to sign Lee Myung-gi. It was grade C, so it was enough to compensate only for the previous year’s annual salary (175 million won), but no team could handle even this. In the end, after NC signed a contract with an annual salary of 50 million won and a total of 50 million won, a sign and trade was made to trade with Hanwha.
What draws more attention than the amount is the number of recruits. Before Lee Myung-ki, Hanwha had already recruited three free agents. Outfielder Chae Eun-seong, who was classified as one of the biggest players, was recruited for a total of 9 billion won over six years, and later, pitcher Lee Tae-yang and infielder Oh Seon-jin, who were Hanwha’s parents’ team, were signed. Even if they are not large free agents, they are enough cards to fill the thin player base of Hanwha, which was at the bottom last year.
The problem is that Hanwha has already filled the recruiting limit by signing three players. According to Article 173 of the Baseball Rules of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) [Restriction on Acquisition of FA], if there are 21 or more players and 30 or less players who have exercised FA rights, only up to 3 players can be recruited. There are a total of 21 approved players in the FA market, and only 3 can be recruited.메이저사이트
A sign-and-trade is technically a trade, not free agency. It is not subject to recruitment restrictions, but it is also true that it is a way around the rules. Lee Myung-gi became the fourth player, and he and Hanhwa are the first to exceed the free agency recruiting limit among all signing-and-trading cases.
What is the actual interpretation of the rules? In response to the magazine’s inquiry, KBO said, “Sign and trade cannot be viewed as a free agent contract. Lee Myung-gi first signed a contract with NC, his original club, and announced it, and after that, it was traded between players.” The Hanwha side also said, “The club was already familiar with the rules. The upper limit was set at 1 insider and 3 outsiders, and this trade was carried out after the backup catcher was the main player and the card matched. If it was a violation of the rules, there was no proposal and no attempt would have been made,” he explained. As explained by KBO and Hanwha, Lee Myung-gi’s case has nothing to do with violation of the rules. In short, the KBO and Hanwha faithfully followed the rules and did nothing wrong.
The purpose of Rule 173 is to prevent monopolies. The KBO said, “There was no salary cap at the time the rule was created. We had to make sure that clubs with a dominant financial situation were unable to sweep players from the free agent market and recruit them.” He continued, “In the past, if the FA contract was not signed after January 15, it was arbitrarily terminated, and then it was released as a free agent, so the contract could not be signed for one year.” In other words, sign-and-trade also serves to protect players.
The KBO said, “We are constantly monitoring the contract situation, and we have determined that the rules are still working to prevent monopoly and protect players.”
However, there are still gaps in the rules. Since the target was Lee Myung-gi, who was in danger of losing a free agent, there was no point in pointing out the monopoly. However, if large fish such as Eui-ji Yang (Doosan Bears) and Kang-nam Yoo (Lotte Giants), which appeared on the market in the same year, are monopolized through sign-and-trade, there is no special way to prevent them.
KBO said, “(The situation) has no problem with the rules. However, based on market logic, we are judging that the possibility of this occurrence is slim.” In fact, it also means that clubs that exceed the logic of the market cannot be stopped.
It was in 1999, when the FA system was newly established, that restrictions on recruiting free agents were made. 24 years have passed, and the last revision (2012) has also passed 11 years. In the meantime, a salary cap was created to regulate monopoly, and the FA rating system was born. If there are gaps, wouldn’t it be good to look back at the rules and try to fill them in?