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(2nd LD) Hanwha Eagles accept MLB posting bid for pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin
SEOUL, Nov. 10 (Yonhap) -- The Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) said Saturday they've accepted the highest of sealed bids by a Major League Baseball (MLB) club for their star pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin, clearing the path for the left-hander to reach the big leagues in 2013.

   The Eagles said the bid was worth US$25,737,737.33. It is the highest amount of bid ever for a South Korean player attempting to reach the majors.

   The MLB club that has submitted the bid has not yet been disclosed. Reports earlier said the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Texas Rangers were among the interested suitors of the 25-year-old left-hander.

Ryu Hyun-jin of the Hanwha Eagles. (Yonhap file photo)

The Eagles posted Ryu earlier this month and the four-day bidding period commenced after the KBO notified MLB of the pitcher's availability. The deadline for submission of bids fell at 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Thursday.

   KBO officials said they informed the Eagles of the highest bid early Saturday. The Eagles had four business days to decide whether to accept the bid or not but wasted little time with their move.

   Ryu became eligible for posting this fall by completing his seventh KBO season. As the Eagles staggered to a last-place finish in the eight-team KBO, Ryu repeatedly said he wanted to compete in the majors next year.

   Ryu needed consent from the Eagles to be posted, and the club, after at first appearing reluctant to let him go, agreed to grant the player's wish in late October.

   "I'd like to thank the Eagles and my manager Kim Eung-yong for their faith and support," Ryu said through the Eagles. "I will make sure to prepare as hard as I can so that I can be an inspiration to young ball players."

   With the Eagles' acceptance of the bid, the MLB team now has the exclusive rights to negotiate with Ryu for 30 days.

   If Ryu signs a major league contract, he'd become the first South Korean to move directly from the KBO to the majors.

   If the given MLB club and Ryu fail to reach a contract, however, Ryu will also be barred from getting posted until Nov. 1, 2013.

   The Eagles had earlier said they would accept a bid only if it is deemed appropriate for a pitcher of Ryu's caliber, and Ryu himself has said he would not leave for the majors unless the bid is good enough.

   Japanese players in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) have also joined the majors via posting in the past decade, and the bid for Ryu ranks as the fourth highest, counting all bids for Japanese stars.

   Last year, pitcher Yu Darvish commended a record $51,703,411 from the Texas Rangers. The Boston Red Sox bid $51,111,111.11 for the right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006. Kei Igawa's Hanshin Tigers accepted a bid of $26,000,194 from the New York Yankees in 2006.

   These offers had stories behind their numbers. For Darvish, the final four digits represented two significant numbers. Nolan Ryan, a Hall of Fame pitcher and CEO of the Rangers, wore No. 34 during his career, and 11 was Darvish's number with his NPB club, the Nippon-Ham Fighters.

   The Red Sox owner John Henry considered "1" a lucky number when they went after Matsuzaka. For the left-hander Igawa, 194 represented his strikeout total from his 2006 season in Japan.

   There have also been cases where players failed to reach a contract with the MLB team that bid for them. Most recently, Hiroyuki Nakajima, a shortstop for the Seibu Lions in NPB, drew a bid of $2.5 million from the New York Yankees in November last year. Their contract talks fell through without an agreement and Nakajima stayed put with the Lions.

   Ryu, 25, joined the KBO in 2006 as a second overall draft pick out of high school and made an immediate impact, becoming the first player to win both the MVP and the Rookie of the Year honors in the same KBO season. He went 18-6 with a 2.23 earned run average (ERA) in his first year, with a KBO rookie record 204 strikeouts.

   He has since been one of the KBO's most dominant starters. He averaged almost 15 wins a season from 2006 to 2010 but was limited to nine wins this year on the league's worst team, despite posting a 2.66 ERA. He has led the KBO in strikeouts in five different seasons.

   The thick-bodied pitcher, listed at 187 centimeters and 98 kilograms, has averaged more than 181 innings per season and has pitched more than 200 innings in two different seasons.

   He can reach up to 150 kilometers (93 miles per hour) with his fastball, and can also throw a changeup and slider as his out pitches.

   Four different KBO players have been posted in the past, though only one of the bids was accepted.

   Left-hander Lee Sang-hoon of the LG Twins commanded $600,000 in the bidding in 1998 and the Twins rejected the offer. Lee later went to Japan and joined the majors as a free agent.

   Pitchers Jin Pil-jung, formerly of the Doosan Bears, and Lim Chang-yong, ex-reliever for the Samsung Lions, drew $25,000 and $650,000, respectively, in December 2002, and their KBO clubs both turned down the bids.

   In 2009, relief pitcher Choi Hyang-nam signed with the St. Louis Cardinals, as his Lotte Giants accepted a bid of $101, but he only spent time in the minors before returning to the KBO.