Trade for former big leaguer Choi off, team mulls release
Trade talks involving former Major League Baseball first baseman Choi Hee-seop have broken down, Choi's South Korean club said Monday, as it mulled an outright release.
The Kia Tigers of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) said they have called off trade discussions with the Nexen Heroes. The Gwangju-based Tigers had been seeking to deal Choi, who missed the start of their team practice earlier this month citing personal reasons.
The Tigers said the Heroes, based in Seoul, had the most interest in acquiring Choi. Though neither team disclosed which Nexen players were on the trading block, sources have said a left-handed reliever and a right-handed infielder would have been traded for Choi.
Kia officials have said Choi was suffering from flu when he didn't show up for the team workshop on Jan. 6 and the start of the offseason training camp two days later. Sources said Choi had put on extra pounds in the offseason and was in no shape to play baseball.
The Tigers left for Arizona for their overseas training on Sunday. They'd asked Choi to join them for that trip, but sources said Choi only told the club to wait even longer.
According to team officials, the Tigers are still willing to trade him given the right offer, but they're also considering releasing him outright and placing him on the league restricted list.
Players on that list are ruled ineligible for the whole season.
The hulking first baseman, listed at 196 centimeters and 99 kilograms on the KBO's Web site, has mostly been a disappointment in Korea since ending his four-year stint in the majors.
He joined the KBO in the middle of the 2007 season and batted .337 in 52 games with seven home runs. Choi was limited to only 55 games the following year and hit only .229.
His best season came in 2009, when he belted 33 home runs and drove in 100 runs while helping the Tigers win the Korean Series championship. He followed that up with 21 home runs and 84 runs batted in (RBI) in 2010, before playing only 70 games and hitting just nine long balls in injury-plagued 2011 season.
Choi made his major league debut with the Chicago Cubs in 2002 and also played for the Florida Marlins and the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 363 career games, Choi hit 40 home runs and drove in 120 runs with a .240 average. (Yonhap)