Tuesday, November 18, 2008

KBO postpones Jang trade verdict
Other teams accuse Lions, Heroes of breach of trust, threaten boycott

The office of the Korea Baseball Organization in Dogokdong, southern Seoul. By Kim Min-gyu
Two more days.

That was the non-conclusive conclusion that the Korea Baseball Organization reached yesterday after reviewing 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.

Following the announcement of the deal on Friday, six KBO teams other than the trade principals voiced their disapproval and asked the league office to review the deal’s validity.

The KBO was expected to issue the verdict yesterday but instead announced that it would hold an emergency board meeting tomorrow morning with presidents from all eight teams in attendance.

Jang Won-sam
The Jang trade has come under criticism 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 so that they wouldn’t follow the trails of another struggling franchise from the past.

In the late 1990s, the Ssangbangwool Raiders made several “players for cash” trades and were eventually bought over by the SK Wyverns in 2000.

On the other hand, the two trade principals charge that the “no trade for cash” clause was never put in a document and was only discussed verbally.

Yang Hae-young, a senior executive at the KBO, explained that the league tried to get the Heroes’ signature in the paper detailing that policy, but “the Heroes never found time to do it.”

However, Yang added the KBO’s legal adviser said the agreement on the no trade for cash policy is still legally binding because it was mentioned during the press conference attended by KBO commissioner Shin Sang-woo and Heroes’ president Lee Jang-seok.

Aside from the legal issue, the six teams say the Heroes and the Lions have breached their trust.

They argue the Heroes have just begun to dump their stars for cash to cover their costs and it doesn’t bode well for the team’s future. They even suggested they would boycott their games against the Lions in the 2009 season should the trade be allowed to stand.

The Heroes’ president Lee admitted on Sunday the team needs money but denied he sent Jang just for quick cash.

At the KBO board meeting, the eight team presidents plus the commissioner Shin have a vote each on the given issue under majority rule. And since team executives other than the Lions’ and the Heroes’ are so clearly against the Jang trade, the deal could be vetoed and nullified.

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

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

But if the trade is vetoed, Jang must return to the Heroes and the money must change hands once again.

Jang, 25, has been one of the KBO’s most consistent left-handed starters since joining the league in 2006. He has won 33 games in his career, including the team-high 12 in 2008, and posted an ERA of 2.85, good for fifth best in the KBO this past season.

Meanwhile, the Heroes’ manager Kim Si-jin said yesterday without Jang, he would essentially throw out the 2009 season. The Heroes could also lose their starting third baseman Jeong Seong-hoon via free agency.

Kim said, “With all that’s going on this offseason, we may as well forget about winning next season and try to rebuild for 2010 and beyond.” He added he was notified of the Jang deal only after the trade was complete.

The Heroes went 50-76 in their inaugural season to finish seventh in the eight-team league.

By Yoo Jee-ho Staff Reporter [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]

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