Some KBO Signings
Three foreign players recently signed with KBO teams. Lucas Harrell, who had a good year for the Astros in 2012, and then pitched his way out of MLB the next two seasons, probably for good, signed a $900,000 one-year deal with the LG Twins. Jim Adduci, who played briefly for the Texas Rangers the last two seasons, signed with the Lotte Giants for a reported $650,000. Finally, Brad Snyder signed a $380,000 contract with the Nexen Heroes after getting dumped by the LG Twins for whom he played briefly late last season.
Of more interest to me than the names of the particular players is the amounts they signed for, as it provides a good idea of the salary structure for foreign players in the KBO. After years of lying about the salaries they were paying foreign players, because almost all the teams were paying foreigners well more than official cap, the cap has been eliminated, and the numbers now reported are probably pretty accurate.
Salaries in the $600K to $900K range for new recruits seems pretty comparable to what new foreigners get in Japan’s NPB. Even so, NPB seems to still be signing more of the best of the 4-A prospects. I suspect that this has to do with the fact that success in NPB promises higher salaries in the future than KBO success does. However, without knowing what foreign KBO veterans like Dustin Nippert, Andy Van Hekken and Rick Vanden Hurk made in 2014 and will be making in 2015, it’s hard to say with certainty how much of an advantage NPB actually has.
It is likely, however, that the recent dramatic rise in KBO salaries, coupled with two foreign players on KBO rosters (compared with one a year ago) and two recent expansion teams, is creating sharp upward pressure on salaries for 4-A players looking to play in the Far East.