Friday, November 21, 2008

After 5 hours of wrangling, still no verdict in Jang deal
The trade principals, the Heroes and Lions, kept arguing the deal is valid, while other representatives insisted it be nullified.
November 20, 2008

Korea Baseball Organization Commissioner Shin Sang-woo, left, signals the beginning of a board meeting yesterday. Shin and the KBO team presidents failed to reach a conclusion on the controversial “player-for-cash” deal involving pitcher Jang Won-sam. [YONHAP]
The Korea Baseball Organization put off reaching a verdict on a controversial trade for the second time in the past three days.

After an emergency board meeting yesterday, the KBO announced that it still hadn’t reached the verdict on pitcher Jang Won-sam’s trade from the Heroes to the Samsung Lions for pitcher Park Sung-hun and 3 billion won ($2.1 million) in cash.

With KBO Commissioner Shin Sang-woo presiding, the meeting was attended by seven of the eight team presidents of the league. The Kia Tigers’ Cho Nam-hong was absent on a business trip and Hanwha Eagles’ president Lee Gyeong-jae represented Cho’s interest.

The KBO had scheduled yesterday’s meeting after failing on Monday to reach a conclusion. The league announced yesterday that Shin would make the final decision “by 2 p.m. Thursday, at the latest.”

Following the announcement of the deal last Friday, the six KBO teams other than the two trade principals voiced their displeasure and demanded the league office review the deal’s validity.

The trade has come under the microscope because the six teams argue that the Heroes, which joined the KBO in 2008, are not permitted to trade players for cash for their first five years under the league-wide agreement.

It was regarded as a measure to prevent the Heroes from following the trails of the Ssangbangwool Raiders, a cash-strapped franchise from the late 1990s which eventually went under after making several “player-for-cash” trades.

The team executives met at 10 a.m. for a closed-door meeting. After a two-hour session, the KBO executives held a separate, three-hour conference but failed to reach a conclusion.

According to KBO spokesman Lee Jin-hyung, the trade principals kept arguing that their deal is valid, while other representatives continued to press Shin to nullify the trade.

No trade has ever been vetoed by the KBO in the league’s 26-year history.

At the core of this controversy is the clause that prohibits the Heroes from dealing players for cash. While the trade principals charge that it was never documented, the six other teams claim that it was verbally agreed upon and thus must be honored by all KBO teams accordingly.

And on Monday, the KBO said its legal adviser confirmed the agreement is still legally binding because it was discussed during the press conference with Shin and the Heroes’ president Lee Jang-seok present.

What is recorded, however, is the clause that for the first five years of their existence, the Heroes and their trading partner must receive the KBO’s prior permission before making deals.

The Lions’ General Manager Kim Jae-ha has argued that the league gave him the go-ahead before the Jang trade.

Although a vote on the issue among the attendees was expected yesterday, KBO spokesman Lee said the meeting was “an occasion for Commissioner Shin to listen to all sides of the story.”

Lee acknowledged that the parties were “clearly divided,” with the Heroes and the Lions being the only one in favor of the trade.

Jang joined the Lions’ training camp last weekend and the Lions have paid the Heroes the 3 billion won, which, if the trade stands, would be the highest figure ever in a player-for-cash deal in the KBO history.

But if the trade is vetoed, Jang must report back to the Heroes and the money must be returned.

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