Choi Ji-man (31, Pittsburgh Pirates), who entered the major league and was selected for the WBC Korean baseball team for the first time in his life, cannot participate.
A Major League official we met at the San Diego Fanfest on the 5th said, “The Pittsburgh club knows that Choi Ji-man will not be able to participate in the 2023 WBC Korean national team.” An official from the Pittsburgh club said, “Unfortunately we believe Ji-man Choi will not be physically ready to participate.”
As the Korean national team has announced the final 30-man entry, if Choi Ji-man is not ready to play in the Australian tournament on March 9, he will inevitably have to adjust the entry. A gap in his slugging power is inevitable. Choi Ji-man’s selection for the national team is power batting and first base defense. He was a bit lackluster last season, but his career slugging percentage was 0.429 with an OPS of 0.773, which is above the MLB average.
Personally, it would be unfortunate if Choi Ji-man could not participate in the WBC. To him, the Taegeuk mark is very symbolic. After graduating from Dongsan High School, he moved to the United States single-bloodedly and knocked on the door of the minor leagues, making his debut in the major leagues in April 2016. He is in his 8th year in the MLB this year. 안전놀이터
I am not in 100% physical condition, but issues outside the field are also obstacles to participating in the national team. Choi Ji-man was traded to Pittsburgh from the Tampa Bay Rays on November 10 last year. Pittsburgh gave minor league pitcher Jack Hartman. At the time, the prevailing theory was that Tampa Bay was a trade to avoid Choi Ji-man’s salary increase. Pittsburgh immediately recruited veteran first baseman switch hitter Carlos Santana from the free agent market after receiving Choi Ji-man as a trade, and prepared a safety device with an insurance card.
After being traded to Pittsburgh, Choi Ji-man failed to reach an annual salary agreement in 2023 and went through the process of going to a salary hearing last month. In 2021, Tampa Bay failed to adjust the salary and won the hearing. He appeared in 113 games in the 2022 season, batting average of 0.233, 11 home runs, 52 RBIs, on-base percentage of 0.341, slugging percentage of 0.388, and OPS of 0.729. Choi Ji-man, the last annual salary adjustment this year, requested 5.4 million dollars, and Pittsburgh offered 4.65 million dollars. He is currently Pittsburgh’s only salary unsigned. The hearing is scheduled to be held in the middle of the month.
Meanwhile, the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) announced on the 6th that SSG Choi Ji-hoon will join the national team. It is known that Pittsburgh has expressed its intention to oppose participation in the WBC, citing Choi Ji-man’s surgery history to the Organizing Committee.