Samsung’s partnership with longevity outsider appears to be over
The Samsung Lions’ pursuit of foreign pitcher David Buchanan may be coming to an end.
A Samsung team official said on the 3rd, “It’s not completely finalized, but it’s true that it’s difficult to sign Buchanan. The club has made its best offer, but the terms are not in agreement with the player’s side.” “There is a limit to the terms we can offer due to the foreign salary cap. Unless something happens, it will be difficult to re-sign him.”
Buchanan has worn a Samsung uniform since 2020. In his first season in the KBO, he went 15-7 with a 3.45 ERA in 27 games and 174⅔ innings. In 2021, he went 16-5 with a 3.10 ERA in 30 games and 177 innings pitched. Tied for the league lead in wins. In 2022, he went 11-8 with a 3.04 ERA in 26 games and 160 innings pitched.
He was just as strong in 2023. In 30 games and 188 innings, he went 12-8 with a 2.54 ERA. He ranked third in the league in ERA, tied for fifth in wins, second in innings pitched, and tied for second in quality starts (six or more innings pitched and three or fewer earned runs allowed) with 21. He also had a great work ethic. He was a great atmosphere maker and helped boost team morale.
Samsung was ready to re-sign him after the season. A difference of opinion arose with Buchanan’s camp. We negotiated a two-year deal, accepting Buchanan’s request for a multi-year contract and offering him a two-year deal. It also included the highest amount of money for a foreigner. However, the total amount could not be increased indefinitely. The KBO introduced a foreign salary cap system in 2023. The maximum total amount that could be spent on three foreigners was limited to $4 million per year. The salary for re-signed foreigners is increased by $100,000 per year depending on the number of years of service.
The total amount Samsung can invest in three outfielders for the 2024 season is $4.4 million. Samsung used $2 million to sign new outfielder Connor Seabold and new outfielder David McKinnon for $1 million each. They could arithmetically give Buchanan up to $2.4 million. A two-year deal would give him $2.4 million this year plus $2.5 million next year for a total of $4.9 million.
But the risk was high. Throwing money at Buchanan without any salary cap space would have disrupted next year’s roster. Even if Seabold and McKinnon do well this year, they’ll be limited in how much they can raise their salaries. It would be virtually impossible to re-sign them next season. If they want to pay Buchanan more than $4.9 million over two years, they’ll have to find at least one outside hitter for $1 million or less next season. This is why they can’t realistically bet the farm on Buchanan.
While negotiating to re-sign Buchanan, the team has been preparing a Plan B and Plan C in case something goes wrong. The odds of signing a new pitcher are even higher.
If Buchanan is not re-signed, the two outfield spots for 2024 will be filled with new faces. Albert Suarez, who was with the team from 2022-2023, was lost to injury midway through last season. Taylor Widener, who was signed as a replacement, did not meet expectations and was placed on the disabled list.
The new pitcher, Seabold, was an active major leaguer. Born in 1996, he is an American right-hander. He started his professional career after being selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2017 First-Year Player Draft. He made his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut in 2021 with the Boston Red Sox. In 2023, he appeared in 27 games (13 starts) and 87⅓ innings for the Colorado Rockies, posting a 1-7 record with a 7.52 ERA and 1.65 WHIP. At Triple-A, he was 13-7 with a 4.13 ERA and 1.24 WHIP.
Samsung says of Seabold, “He has a strong fastball that averages around 100 mph and a complete arsenal of pitches, including a changeup and slider. He has good command of the left and right sides of the strike zone.” “We expect him to be an integral part of the Samsung starting rotation in 2024 with his strong command of his pitches and stable control.”
The homegrown starters are led by ace Won Tae-in. He will be auditioning for the two fourth and fifth spots.