The KBO approved three big deals involving the Heroes, Wednesday. The Heroes send key players Lee Taek-keun, left, Jang Won-sam, center, and Lee Hyun-seung to the LG Twins, Samsung Lions and Doosan Bears, respectively. The Heroes get five players and 5.5 billion won in cash in return.
/ Korea Times File
By Yoon Chul
The Heroes completed three blockbuster trades involving eight players and 5.5 billion won in cash Wednesday, just hours after the Korea Baseball Organization officially declared that the team had paid off its 12 billion won franchise fee, and lifted restrictions on players-for-money trading.
The Seoul-based club traded three of its best players ― Lee Taek-keun, sent to the LG Twins for catcher Park Young-bok, outfielder Kang Byung-woo and 2.5 billion won in cash; left-handed starter Lee Hyun-seung to the Bears for pitcher Keum Min-chul and 1 billion won; and left-handed starter, Jang Won-sam, to the Samsung Lions for pitcher Park Sung-hoon, infielder Kim Sang-soo and 2 billion won.
The moves would appear to confirm that the Heroes are in significant financial difficulty, as had been previously rumored.
The Heroes had been restricted from traded players for cash until the club paid off its franchise fee, but with the league's teams coming to an agreement on the allocation of that cash Wednesday morning, it set off the fire-sale that many had been anticipating.
Representatives from all eight teams agreed that the Doosan Bears and LG Twins would send the 1.5 billion won they each received from the Heroes as territorial rights fees to the league. The KBO would then send 2.7 billion won to both the Bears and Twins and 2 billion won to the SK Wyverns as compensation for the Heroes moving into their territory in 2008.
The Bears and Twins then must donate 500 million won each and the Wyverns 400 million won to the Korea Baseball Development Fund.
``Once the Bears and Twins send us the 1.5 billion won each, the Heroes will then have officially paid the entire 12 billion won franchise fee,'' a league official said.
The three deals should have a significant impact on all four clubs involved, perhaps even causing a shift in the balance of power in the KBO in 2010.
The Twins got the slugger they needed in Lee Taek-keun after they opted not to re-sign Roberto Petagine. The Twins are also pursuing Chunichi Dragons outfielder Lee Byung-kyu, which would give them a competitive lineup.
The Bears have also solidified their rotation, getting the competitive left-handed ace that manager Kim Kyung-moon had coveted and who the Bears believe could be the final piece to their championship puzzle.
The rotation will not include Kim Sun-woo, Hong Sang-sam, Lee Hyun-seung and two imports.
With the likes of Kim Hyun-soo, Ko Young-min, Lee Jong-wook and Kim Dong-joo in the lineup, Kim believes the team can win the Korean Series.
The Lions, meanwhile, got a solid lefty of their own, to complement a rotation that already includes Yoon Sung-hwan, Francisco Cruceta and Branden Knight.
All three clubs have now added significant players and should be better built to challenge the Kia Tigers and SK Wyverns at the top of the standings.
The Lotte Giants, which advanced to the post-season the last two years, will be strong again but may be in a bigger battle for the playoffs than before.
While the Heroes sell off their best assets for cash and role players, the Hanwha Eagles weren't so lucky. The Daejeon-based club lost sluggers Kim Tae-kyun and Lee Bum-ho to teams from Japan and will likely struggle at the bottom of the standings along with the Heroes.