It looks like the local baseball fans won’t be able to see some of the veteran foreign players such as Dustin Nippert or Henry Sosa playing in the KBO League next year.
Dustin Nippert, the American pitcher of the KT Wiz affectionately dubbed the “Godpert,” is likely to leave his Korean team next year. Having finished the season as ninth, KT is planning to replace both of their foreign pitchers for the next season. On last Monday, KT signed a one-year, 650,000-dollar contract with Raul Alcantra, a 26-year-old right-hander from the Nashville Sounds, and is currently under talks with William Cuevas, the 28-year-old pitcher of the Boston Red Sox.
With 102 wins over eight seasons, Dustin Nippert became the first foreign pitcher to have clinched 100 wins at the local baseball league. Back in 2016, the American won two MVP awards from regular season and the Korean Series, garnering 22 wins as starting pitcher of the Doosan Bears. This season, Nippert has done a fair share as well, with eight wins, eight defeats, and 4.25 ERA. His record of quality starts at 20 is second only to Josh Lindblom, who pulled off 21 quality starts this year. Experts say that his age at late 30s and his long list of injuries must have given second thoughts to KT about extending his contract.
Henry Sosa, the Dominican pitcher of the LG Twins who has played in the KBO for seven seasons, is also not getting contract extensions next year. The Twins have extended the contract with Tyler Wilson and signed a new one for a right-hander called Casey Kelly. Boasting 93mph fastballs, Sosa has won a total 68 wins with a respectable 4.32 ERA in South Korea. Having taken the mound for more than 30 games a year as starter from 2015 to 2017, the Dominican recorded nine wins and nine defeats, with 3.52 ERA, but Sosa’s form fluctuated recently after his hip surgery in September, with his ERA surging to 6.06.
Another stumbling block for contract extension was the income taxes applied to foreign athletes, which have soared by as much as 42 percent this year. Unlike American players who enjoy the double taxations prevention treaty between South Korean and the U.S., Sosa has to pay his income taxes both in South Korea and Dominica, which adds a considerable financial burden.
Eric Hacker, the 35-year-old pitcher who returned to the Korean league in June as member of the Nexen Heroes, is likely to leave the KBO as well. Starting his KBO career with the NC Dinos in 2013, Hacker joined the Heroes this year and made contributions to his team’s advancement into Post-season, with five wins, three losses, and 5.20 ERA in 14 games. After the season was finalized, Nexen signed a new contract with a 28-year-old lefty named Eric Jokisch to tackle the excessive supplies of right handers in stock.
Their “reemployment” prospect is bleak since all of them are in their mid or late 30s with history of injury. “It is unlikely that we will recruit those who failed to extend their contracts. Our direction is tilted more towards younger and healthier newbies,” said an official from the Samsung Lions, who have yet to sign new foreign pitchers.