Korean star pitcher Ryu Hyun-Jin available for bidding, hires agent Scott Boras

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MLB teams will be able to bid on the negotiating rights to Korean pitching star Ryu Hyun-Jin, according to Yoo Jee-Ho of the Yonhap News.

Hyun-Jin, a 25-year-old left-hander who’s been one of the Korea Baseball Organization’s best pitchers since 2006, will be “posted” by the Hanwha Eagles and has already hired agent Scott Boras to represent him.

Lots of players have come to MLB via the Japanese posting process, but the Korean version is slightly different. Jee-Ho describes how it works:

The KBO club can either accept or reject the highest bid amount following the auction. Once the non-negotiable bid is accepted, the interested MLB team will have the exclusive right to negotiate with the posted player. When the two sides agree on contract terms, the Eagles will then take the bid money as a transfer fee for the player. On the other hand, the Eagles may also reject any bid, in which case Ryu will remain with the KBO team next year.

In other words, it’s basically a silent auction with a reserve/minimum price that no one actually knows yet. Hyun-Jin has made it clear that he wants to pitch in America and could leave Korea as an outright free agent in 2014, so this is his team’s chance to get something in return.

Hyun-Jin was the first Korean player to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season and has led the KBO in strikeouts five times. According to Jee-Ho he “can reach up to 93 miles per hour with his fastball, and major league scouts have said they like his command with his changeup and slider.”

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.