After Jung-Ho Kang's successful jump from the Korean Baseball Organization to the MLB last year, several other KBO stars are attempting to follow in Kang's footsteps this winter. Byung-Ho Park has already been posted and had his negotiating rights won by the Twins; pitcher Seung-hwan Oh has already generated interest on the open market, as well.
Yesterday, outfielder Ah-Seop Son was posted by his Korean club, the Lotte Giants. Son is a 27 year old who bats left handed and has posted a strong .323/.398/.462 line with 79 home runs and 89 stolen bases across 853 career games. He doesn't have the otherworldly numbers that Park or Kang posted during their KBO careers, but he's viewed as a potential top-of-the-order hitter for clubs that might need help in the corner outfield.
Any franchises that may be interested have five days to post blind bids for the right to negotiate with Son. If a bid is chosen, then the winning club is given a 30 day window to try and negotiate a contract.
Given the Brewers abundance of corner outfielders, they don't figure to be involved in the bidding for Ah-Seop Son. It is likely that the Brewers still keep a close eye on the situation, however, due to the fact that Son's teammate, Jae-gyun Hwang, has also requested to be posted this winter. Hwang is a 28 year old third baseman that bats right handed. He's a career .280/.343/.417 hitter in 1057 career games, slugging 88 home runs and stealing 148 bases. He hasn't been quite as consistent throughout his career as Son has, but he is coming off a season in which he hit .290/.350/.521 with a career high 26 home runs in 144 games.
Under the current system, KBO clubs are allowed to only post one player at a time and are allowed to accept only one bid per offseason. The Giants chose to post Son first, despite the fact that he is two years away from free agency and his teammate Hwang can become a free agent next winter. My personal speculation is that unless the Giants are blown away by an offer for Son, they will not accept a bid for him and will then post Hwang. Son is arguably the better of the two, so its likely he'd command the higher posting fee. It will ultimately be up the Giants to decide if it's more worthwhile to accept a bid for Son now and let Hwang leave without compensation next season, or to pull back Son in order to post Hwang this winter, and then post Son again next year (when the outfield market won't be quite as strong).
The $12.85 mil fee that the Twins paid to negotiate with Park earlier this month goes to show that the market has increased for KBO imports. If Jae-gyun Hwang is eventually posted, though, the cost still won't be at all prohibitive. Given his track record, I'd hazard a guess and say that something close to $5 mil would probably be enough to secure the winning bid. A four year deal in the range of $16-20 mil would likely convince Hwang to make the jump stateside.
The Brewers have a need at third base and GM David Stearns has said that the club would explore possible external additions. Hwang would be a relatively low-cost addition and at 28, he's young enough that he shouldn't have to worry about a serious decline for several more seasons. With the going rate for a Win Above Replacement now somewhere between $7-8 mil dollars, he'd only have to accrue around 3-4 WAR over the life of his deal to justify a $25 mil investment. If Hwang can establish himself as a legitimate regular at the hot corner, then his contract could become an immense value for the Brewers to have control of. He may well be able to earn the role of the near term solution at third base, or eventually become a trade chip as the club rebuilds toward contention.
Of course, all of this will be moot point if someone makes a winning bid for Ah-Seop Son. We should know for certain by the end of this week if Hwang will become available, of if the Brewers will have to search elsewhere for help at third base.