Ryu Hyun-jin did a good job, former teammate Cooper Kim Ha-sung also signed a minor contract… Major League Baseball with a series of hard-to-understand contracts

U.S. online media “Trade Rumors” reported on the 26th (Korea time) that “the Chicago Cubs and first baseman Cooper signed a one-year minor league contract.”

The media added, “Cooper’s contract includes an invitation to a major league spring camp, and details such as salary have not been announced yet.”

Cooper, who made his major league debut as a member of the New York Yankees in 2017, became the first major league FA in his career after playing a total of seven seasons in the big leagues until last year.

His performance last year was not bad. He played a total of 123 games for the Miami and San Diego teams, posting a batting average of 0.251 with 17 homers and 61 RBIs. He also observed an OPS of 0.724, which is a combination of on-base plus slugging percentage.

Cooper is not worthy of a minor league contract in previous years, but the reality was different. And this is not the first time Cooper has been involved in the FA market.

ESPN, a U.S. sports channel, reported on the 23rd (Korea time) that Detroit has agreed to a one-year, 1.5 million-dollar contract with Gio Urshela (33) for one year. This news is related to recruiting players in general. However, it is not easy to understand if you look inside the contract.

Urshela’s annual salary was 8.4 million dollars last year. The Detroit Tigers’ salary is 7 million dollars year-on-year.

Originally from Colombia, a South American country, Urshela is an eight-year veteran who played in the Major League for a total of eight years until last year. He has a batting average of 0.277, 64 homers and 280 RBIs in total. His on-base plus slugging percentage OPS stands at 0.745, which is not a bad idea.

As a member of the Los Angeles Angels last year, he played a total of 62 games due to injury, but posted a batting average of 0.299 with two homers and 24 RBIs. It was not a bad performance. However, his salary was cut by a whopping 7 million dollars.

The same happened to Jurickson Profar, a utility man who renewed his contract with the San Diego Padres last week. Dubbed Kim Ha-sung’s brother, he signed a one-year, one-million-dollar FA contract with the San Diego Padres. Considering that the minimum annual salary for the Major League this year is 740,000 dollars, it is almost the minimum contract.

Let’s take a look at his performance last year. He played in a total of 125 games, ranging from infield to outfield, posting a batting average of 0.242, nine homers and 46 RBIs. His OPS was 0.689. It was not a stellar performance, but it does not deserve to be paid one million dollars a year. This contract did not even consider a premium for his 10th year in the Major League.

There is another case like this.

Major League Baseball’s Arizona club reported in a press release on the 18th (Korea time) that it signed a one-year, $2 million (about 2.671 billion won) major league FA contract with outfielder Randall Grichuk. It is a general contract that is not very strange in terms of face value.

However, if you look into Grichuk’s performance, you can’t help but hear “billion dollars.” He has hit double-digit homers every year for nine consecutive seasons since 2015. He also posted over 40 RBIs every year. He also has an outfielder advantage. However, he signed a one-year, two-million-dollar contract.

Grichuk received about 3.88 million dollars in annual salary last year. He also appeared in 118 games posting a batting average of 0.267, 16 homers and 44 RBIs, but this year’s salary is halved.

There are other similar cases.

Carlos Santana, 38, a veteran first baseman who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Milwaukee Brewers last year, recently signed a one-year 5.25 million-dollar free agent contract with the Minnesota Twins. Santana had a batting average of 0.240 with 23 home runs and 83 RBIs last year. His WAR also showed good performance at 2.7.

However, he signed the FA contract, which was cut by $1.474 billion (about KRW 1,974.28 million) from $6.72 million (about KRW 9 billion) a year ago in 2023.

Why is this phenomenon occurring? To start with the conclusion, there is a widespread mood that people do not want to spend money in the Major League market even though they have money. This is due to anxiety over the future.

According to an official familiar with Major League Baseball’s situation, “This is because the Belly Sports operator, which had TV broadcasting rights to many Major League clubs, went bankrupt due to financial problems, blocking the club’s main source of income.”

The club that suffered the biggest financial loss was the San Diego Padres. They had to take out 50 million U.S. dollars in emergency loans due to short-term cash flow problems when their financial sources were blocked last year.

The bigger problem is that many Major League Baseball teams still have broadcasting rights contracts with Belly Sports this year. Belly Sports is seeking various solutions to its financial problems through various channels, but another blood vessel may burst. That could lead more clubs to follow in San Diego’s footsteps.

“The owners who have experienced and watched these problems directly or indirectly have become hesitant to spend money unlike in the past,” an official said. “The top 5% of superstars such as Shohei Ohtani (30, LA Dodgers) will not be affected over the next two to three years, but other players are unlikely to be guaranteed sweet amounts through multi-year contracts like in the past even if they get a hard FA qualification.”

The reason why many contractors such as Blake Snell and Matt Chapman remain in the FA market is due to money problems. And the market is going against players. Korean Monster’s Ryu Hyun-jin (37) also returned to Korea after being exhausted waiting for a satisfactory offer. Considering the current FA market in the Major League, it is fair to say that Ryu made a good choice.

BY: 토토

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