The application for mediation (adjustment) of professional baseball salary in 2023 has been closed with ‘0 cases’. Article 75 of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) Rules [Application for Arbitration] states that ‘a club or player requesting arbitration must submit an application for arbitration to the president by 6:00 pm on January 10 of each year’. Once the application is submitted, the players and clubs must submit the basis for calculating the annual salary they want to the KBO before five days from the deadline for arbitration, and then the arbitration committee will give up on either side. It is a system that can put an end to when salary negotiations run parallel, but no one has used it in the last two years.
The absence of an arbitration request does not mean that negotiations are smooth. Currently, some clubs in the KBO League leak out of the rupture that occurred in salary negotiations. In the A club in the metropolitan area, veteran players are hardly able to find an agreement with the club. It was also confirmed that there are quite a few players who have not signed annual salary contracts with local B clubs.
As of the deadline for applying for salary arbitration, no club has completed an annual salary contract for the 2023 season. As such, salary negotiations are difficult in many places, regardless of specific clubs. For this reason, there was even an expectation that “there are not a few players who will apply for salary arbitration” both inside and outside of professional baseball.
Salary arbitration applications were once a private rule. From 1984 to 2001, in a total of 14 arbitration applications, the club’s request was accepted. In 2002, Ryu Ji-hyeon (then LG Twins) received the first ever demand for a player, but the bolt was closed after that. Even Lee Dae-ho (Lotte Giants at the time), who won seven unprecedented batting crowns in 2010, was defeated, and the players’ eyes on the system were not good. In fact, there was not a single application for salary arbitration from 2012 to 2020.
However, in 2021, sovereignty (KT Wiz) showed signs of revitalizing the system as it won the second annual salary arbitration application in 19 years after Ryu Ji-hyun and the second ever. At the time, the sovereignty demanded 250 million won, an increase of 100 million won from 150 million won, and confronted the club that offered 220 million won. The arbitration committee raised the sovereign’s hand, saying, “We made a judgment as fair and reasonable as possible based on objective standards.”
With the introduction of the authorized representative system in 2018, the players were relieved of the burden of negotiations. A logical fight became possible as the authorized representative calculated and presented the basis for the player’s demand. Attorney Woo-Jun Kang, an accredited representative of the KBO, was involved in the entire process of mediating the salary.
Former SK Wyverns manager Lee Man-soo, who lost in a salary arbitration application in 1992, said, “In the past, there was not enough data to present. There was no (detailed) data or agent. The situation now is very different.” However, it is still burdensome to apply for salary arbitration. The burden the player feels is not small as the conflict with the club rises to the surface. Even if an authorized representative wants to apply for salary arbitration, most players want an amicable agreement. 스포츠토토
A club official said, “Salary mediation is not a small burden on the club. The players will be similar.” This year is the first season in which the salary cap, which limits the total annual salary of the players, is implemented, so each club is carefully tapping the calculator. Since 2023, if the total annual salary for each club exceeds 11,426.38 million won for three years, it is subject to sanctions, so it is difficult to receive the requested amount from the player side. This is why it is said that salary negotiations are more difficult than in previous years.
Although the application for salary arbitration was avoided, the conflict has not been resolved. Each club has homework to settle the atmosphere and complete negotiations as quickly as possible.