The Korea Herald


[Korea Quiz] Lucrative MLB careers

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Nov. 1, 2023 - 11:39

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Find the answer at the bottom of the page.

Ryu Hyun-jin just wrapped up the last season of his four-year, $80 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, and is now slated for free agency that will realistically be the 36-year-old pitcher's last chance to make big money in Major League Baseball.

Widely considered the best Korean pitcher of all time, Ryu has already made just a tad under $133.9 million in his 11-year stint in the MLB, which started in 2013 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite his massive financial success, Ryu is still No. 2 among Koreans in terms of money earned from an MLB career.

Ryu Hyun-jin (AP-Yonhap) Ryu Hyun-jin (AP-Yonhap)

Choo Shin-soo, the only Korean position player ever to appear in an MLB All-Star game, made $147.5 million over his 13-year career, mostly with the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers. His Texas days, however, were a mixed bag, as many of his seasons fell short of the expectations that accompanied his megasized deal worth $130 million over seven years, signed in 2014.

The now-retired Park Chan-ho, who became the first Korean ever to play in the MLB when he joined the LA Dodgers in 1994, was another player who experienced disappointment with the Rangers. His star rising with the Dodgers earned him a big contract with Texas in 2002, but his trajectory was dampened by injuries.

He did, however, make over $85.4 million and remains the winningest Asian-born pitcher in MLB history, and is among the most popular and influential sports figures in Korea.

Kim Ha-seong just had a breakout season for the San Diego Padres, and has ample potential to rise much higher in this list. But for the time being, the 28-year-old infielder still has two more years in his $13 million contract with Padres, which he signed as a rookie.

The Korean with the fourth most lucrative MLB career is Kim Byung-hyun, who made $20 million across nine seasons. Despite making millions less than the other Korean All-Stars -- Ryu, Choo and Park -- Kim is the first and so far only Korean to win an MLB championship, winning the coveted ring in 2001 in a memorable World Series as the closer for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Answer: (b)