KT Wiz was the first team to finalize its foreign roster for the 2024 season.
Two players were re-signed and one was a new contract, not a re-signing.
The team re-signed William Cuevas and Wes Benjamin, who finished this year’s season together, but the most notable addition is the return of Mel Rojas Jr. Rojas is a foreign hitter who spent four years with KT from 2017-2020.
He then tried his hand in Japan before leaving the Hanshin Tigers to play in the Mexican and Dominican leagues.
KT said, “We saw Rojas playing in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, and we thought he was still in good shape, so we signed him again,” but it’s symbolic to have a player who left the team come back.
Of course, Rojas didn’t leave KT for lack of talent.
He was at the peak of his powers in South Korea and was looking for a better deal and a chance to play in the Japanese league.
However, he played in the Mexican and Dominican leagues for over a year after being released by Hanshin, so there’s no guarantee that he’s in his “best” form.
However, the decision was made because there is no guarantee that the team will be able to find a new, better hitter.
The market for foreign players was similar last year, even in a losing year.
It’s a relief to have someone to re-sign.
The problem is when you have to find a new player.
Signing a new foreign player is like winning the lottery, there are no guarantees.
However, recently, there have been complaints that the number of players we want to sign has decreased due to two reasons: first, the problem of acclimatization to the league, and second, the number of players we really want to sign. 토토
The first reason is the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still affecting the US market.
The shutdown of the minor leagues led to a significant number of minor leaguers quitting baseball, especially veterans, because they couldn’t make ends meet.
Clubs also downsized their minor leagues, which hit them hard.
Most of the foreign players coming to Korea are backups in the U.S. major leagues or at the Triple-A level.
However, with the weakening of the minor pool, major league teams are finding it harder than ever to find replacements during the season.
Players who were once on the 40-man roster are now on the 40-man roster, and even if they’re in Double-A or Triple-A right now, there’s still hope for a call-up to the big leagues, so players don’t give up easily.
From the players’ point of view, the challenge of the Asian League is quite a big adventure, so they choose a more stable environment.
This is where opinions are somewhat divided, especially on the $1 million limit for new foreign players, which some say is a handicap to compete with Japanese clubs, while others say it’s a good thing, as it allows agencies to get away with excessive salary shenanigans.
However, with the minimum salary in Major League Baseball rising to $700,000 (about $910,000) this year, many believe that KBO clubs will not be able to afford to bring their “ace” players to Korea.
As it stands, the Doosan Bears and KIA Tigers have yet to announce any foreign player signings, while the Lotte Giants, Samsung Lions, SSG Landers, NC Dinos, and Kiwoom Heroes still need to finalize two more contracts.
We’re now past mid-December, and some players are still unsure if they’ll be re-signed.
In Doosan’s case, they’re looking for stronger new foreign hitters, but there’s still the possibility of Jose Rojas re-signing.
It’s an insurance policy.
Since it’s so hard to find good new players, the calculation is that it’s best to re-sign Rojas if things don’t work out.
The same goes for SSG, which is in talks with a number of pitchers on the shortlist, but could still re-sign Loenis Elias if that doesn’t work out.
Still, starting this season, the KBO will introduce a replacement foreign player system.
If a foreign player is sidelined for an extended period of time due to injury, a substitute can be brought in on a short-term loan.
It’s one of the safeguards that can prevent a player from getting injured.