Notable MLB free agents are signing in Japan and South Korea during lockout; will bigger names follow?

Back in 1987, with Major League Baseball’s owners colluding against the players to suppress salaries, Bob Horner took matters into his own hands. Horner, a former All-Star and Rookie of the Year Award recipient, had homered 54 times and posted a 121 OPS+ for the Atlanta Braves in the 1985 and 1986 seasons, making it all the more jarring when he agreed to a one-year contract with the Yakult Swallows. The Swallows, part of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league, were willing to do what no MLB club would deign itself to do: pay Horner what he believed he was worth, or nearly $2 million. 

“The Japanese called and made a good offer,” he said, according to a Los Angeles Times article. “I was at the point of thinking I was going to sit out the whole year.”

Horner didn’t enjoy his time in Japan. He later turned down a multi-year offer from the Swallows to return to the majors, where he suffered a career-ending shoulder injury a year later. Still, fans of a certain age might have thought about Horner once or twice already this offseason. With MLB’s franchise owners locking out the players on Dec. 2, the hot stove has been snuffed out. (“Any contact with major league players or agents on any topic is prohibited,” is the league’s instruction to front-office personnel.) The only transaction news to devour in the time since has been the steady drumbeat of MLB players pushing off America’s shores for more certainty in Japan’s NPB or the Korean Baseball Organization, the world’s No. 2 and 3 leagues.

The holiday weekend alone saw third baseman Rio Ruiz, a veteran of parts of six big-league seasons, and Chris Gittens, who appeared in 16 games with the New York Yankees, sign with Asian league teams. They join a growing list of departees that includes Yasiel Puig, Freddy Galvis, Ivan Nova, and so on. Former Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco was also reportedly close to a deal in Japan. It’s enough to make a casual observer wonder: is there an exodus underway, and could even bigger names flock overseas if MLB’s lockout endures into the spring?

“I’m actually not sure that is the case,” an Asian league scout told CBS Sports when asked if players seemed more willing to move to Japan or South Korea. “I’d like it to be, I thought it might be, but it looks a little ‘business as usual’ to me.”

To the scout’s point, the most notable players heading to Asia have had extenuating circumstances surrounding their exits. Puig, for example, had trouble landing a MLB contract even before he settled a civil lawsuit alleging he had sexually assaulted a woman. Galvis, meanwhile, signed a contract that could pay him up to $6 million over two seasons, a fair amount more than he would’ve received in the majors. As for Polanco … well, even MLB front-office types aren’t sure how to explain that one.

“I would guess that the profiles of

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Thousands of whole-length episodes are offered by way of the PBS channel, which include exhibits these types of as Mother nature, PBS NewsHour, Frontline, and – everyone’s favorite – Antiques Roadshow. You can stream reveals on demand from customers, view your neighborhood PBS station’s livestream, or develop a tailor made watchlist to tackle just after

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