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“How many players will come to Korea to play for a month?”

KBO will introduce a temporary replacement foreign player system starting next year. If a foreign player suffers a long-term injury that requires treatment for more than 6 weeks, the player can be placed on the rehabilitation player list and contract with a foreign player to be used as a temporary replacement without using the number of replacements until the player returns, and can be used immediately in the game.

Foreign players on the rehabilitation player list must wait at least 6 weeks before they can return to the league, and if they return, the replacement foreign player must be replaced with another foreign player (one registration count will be deducted) or the contract must be terminated through waiver. The price of a replacement player is limited to a maximum of $100,000 per month, the same as that of existing replacement foreign players.

The KBO league suffers from major and minor injuries to foreign players every year. This doesn't only apply to certain teams. No matter how much you check and verify your physical condition, if an unexpected variable occurs, you end up wasting time and money by being dragged around without a solution. This is why there is a self-deprecating saying, “Foreign farming is a game of luck and failure.”

It was particularly bad this year. Representative examples include Burch Smith (formerly Hanwha), who suffered shoulder muscle damage after 60 pitches in 2⅔ innings in the opening game, and Eni Romero (formerly SSG), who injured his shoulder during training camp and left the country without throwing a single pitch. These were new foreign player contracts with a cap of $1 million, which was a waste of foreign currency. From this point on, discussions on an alternative foreign player system began in earnest.

The replacement foreign player system is a so-called 'scam prevention law' and is aimed at smoothing the supply and demand of players during the injury recovery period and resolving the imbalance in league power. It is important that the club can take the initiative by maintaining the right to reserve a player and weighing replacement players when recovering from an injury. If recovery from injury is slow or the replacement player performs better, the club may make a full replacement rather than a temporary replacement.

Last July, Samsung released Albert Suarez, a talented foreign pitcher, due to an injury, but under the current system, they would have been able to use a replacement player, wait for the injury to recover, and maintain the right to reserve. Although such a positive effect can be expected and is better than nothing, there are questions about its effectiveness.

Above all, the key is how quickly players can be supplied in the event of an injury. One official said, “It is difficult to bring in a replacement player right away during the season. Considering the various administrative procedures and preparation time after entering the country, even if it is 6 weeks, it could end in only a month. “I don’t know how many players will come to Korea to play for a month during the season,” he expressed his doubts. Another official said, “It is also a question of what level of foreign players will come. “If you don’t have a clear competitive advantage over domestic players, it could be a waste of money,” he said.

It is extremely unlikely that minor league players, the largest source of supply in the foreign market, will come to Korea to play for a short period of 4 to 6 weeks. Ultimately, we have to find players from independent leagues in the U.S., Taiwan, Mexico, etc. We can expect success stories like Ronnie Dawson, an outfielder from the American independent league who played in a Kiwoom uniform last July for a total of $85,000, but there are also opinions that it is better to prepare such players in advance as nurturing foreigners and utilize them immediately in case of injury. there is.

According to Article 29, Foreign Players, Paragraph 3 of this year's Baseball Rules, each club can sign a contract for up to $300,000 in training-type foreign players, one pitcher and one fielder. However, it has become so commonplace that none of the 10 teams have foreign players, and they are in the process of abolishing it. The intention was to use it as a reserve resource in case of injury or poor performance of a first-team foreign player, but this was not realistic in the KBO League, where both foreign retention and first-team registration were limited to three players. The cost burden of spending up to $300,000 on a player who could never be used in the first team was also significant. Additional costs, including interpretation and accommodation, are also incurred.

However, some point out that in order to improve the league's overall performance and take risks, it is necessary to move to a nurturing foreigner system that supplements and revises the bylaws in the long term. In the current foreigner system, which is close to gambling, there are limits to filling loopholes with temporary replacement players, which are more like a temporary measure. It may cost money, but even if the number of first-team registrations is limited, increasing the retention limit to increase competition among foreign players and secure alternatives can be a way to reduce double and triple expenses and save time.
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Tuesday, December 5, 2023
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