(2nd LD) KBO’s Eagles likely to finalize deal with Ryu Hyun-jin by Wednesday

SEOUL, The South Korean baseball club Hanwha Eagles will likely finalize their deal with free agent pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin by Wednesday and make him the highest-paid player in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), sources said Tuesday. The Eagles have reportedly offered Ryu a four-year deal worth 17 billion won (US$12.7 million), the largest deal ever in the KBO both by average annual value and total amount. The Eagles have taken necessary administrative steps to finalize their deal with the 36-year-old pitcher, who first played for the Eagles from 2006 to 2012. The Eagles have carried out a formal status check on Ryu through Major League Baseball (MLB), which confirmed the pitcher's status as a free agent. Under an agreement between the KBO and MLB, any KBO club hoping to contact a player under contract with or reserve to a big league club must carry out a status check through the MLB Commissioner's Office. Rumors of the Eagles' reunion with Ryu first surfaced Monday. A senior Eagles official denied mu ltiple South Korean reports that Ryu had already signed the deal Tuesday, but admitted the two sides remained engaged in "positive dialogue." "We still have a few things to sort out," the official added, declining to divulge further due to the sensitive nature of the contract talks. After his seven-year run with the Eagles, Ryu took his talents to MLB by signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers after being posted by the Eagles. Ryu spent the past four seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays and became a free agent after his four-year, US$80 million contract expired at the end of last season. Because Ryu left the Eagles via posting, instead of free agency, the Eagles still retain rights to the pitcher. If Ryu were to return to the KBO, it would have to be with the Eagles. They would have to release his rights and make him a KBO free agent if Ryu wanted to go elsewhere in South Korea. When Ryu left through the posting system, the Eagles placed him on the "voluntarily retired" list, a typical procedure for players le aving the KBO via posting. The Eagles had to ask the KBO to reinstate Ryu before their deal can be made official. If Ryu's deal is announced Wednesday, he is expected to join the Eagles at their spring training site in Okinawa, Japan, later this week. The Eagles are scheduled to return home from their first round of spring training in Australia on Wednesday and then travel to Okinawa the following day. Ryu burst onto the KBO scene in 2006, winning both the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards. He captured the pitching Triple Crown by leading the league with 18 wins, 2.23 ERA and a rookie-record 204 strikeouts. In seven KBO seasons, Ryu went 98-52 with a 2.80 ERA in 190 appearances. Ryu compiled a 78-48 record with a 3.27 ERA in 186 outings in 10 major league seasons. Source: Yonhap News Agency