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Samsung Lions' contract talks with slugger break off

2015/12/23 18:08

SEOUL, Dec. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korean baseball club Samsung Lions said Wednesday their contract talks with second baseman Yamaico Navarro have broken off, saying they will pursue other options to replace the Dominican slugger with questionable work ethic.

An official with the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) said the Lions have moved on as Navarro, who'd belted 79 home runs over the past two seasons with the Lions, hasn't responded to the club's final offer.

"It's highly unlikely we will retain Navarro," the official said. "Unless there's a dramatic turn of events, we will go our separate ways."

   The Lions have instead entered talks with an infielder with "a wealth of experience" in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

Yamaico Navarro, seen here hitting a single for the Samsung Lions during the 2015 Korean Series in Seoul on Oct. 29, 2015, may be departing the club after the contract talks between them have broken off. (Yonhap file photo) Yamaico Navarro, seen here hitting a single for the Samsung Lions during the 2015 Korean Series in Seoul on Oct. 29, 2015, may be departing the club after the contract talks between them have broken off. (Yonhap file photo)

KBO clubs can each have three foreign players on their roster, and at least one of them must be a position player. The Lions last Saturday announced their acquisitions of two American pitchers, Allen Webster and Collin Balester.

Navarro has been one of the KBO's biggest mashers over the past two seasons. He hit 31 homers and drove in 98 runs last year, while stealing 25 bases and posting a .308/.417/.552 line. Navarro was voted the MVP of the 2014 Korean Series, helping the Lions win their fourth consecutive KBO championship with four home runs and 10 RBIs in six games.

This past season, Navarro went off for 48 home runs and 137 RBIs to rank second and third in the KBO, respectively, and also had 22 steals and a .287/.393/.596 line.

The Lions' management, however, hasn't been pleased with Navarro's work ethic. The 28-year-old has been known to show up more than an hour late for pre-game practices -- even during the postseason -- and some veterans of the team have reportedly told him they'd like to see him loaf less on the field.

And Navarro apparently balked at the Lions' efforts to stipulate in his contract that he has to show better efforts. The team official said the Lions are after a player who can contribute on the field and also fit in with the rest of the team in the club house.

jeeho@yna.co.kr

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