CHIBA – The Lotte Marines have released infielder Lee Seung Yeop after talks with the Pacific League club ended in an impasse, the Japanese pro baseball commissioner’s office revealed Friday.
His release means Lee, 29, will now be available to take part in contractual talks with other pro baseball clubs, including those in the major leagues.
“Lotte made a proposal to keep his salary unchanged,” said Lee’s agent, Shigeyuki Mito. “There have been no changes in the numerical terms to match his contributions to the club. This is an incomprehensible situation and we have been in contact with his U.S. agent as well.”
Lee, whose two-year contract expired at the end of last season, had reached a basic agreement to stay with Lotte but on Thursday did an about-face in a request to be released.
“He said he wanted to be completely free in order to break down barriers to negotiations, including those with teams overseas,” Mito said.
Lotte club representative Ryuzo Setoyama said the team made its best offer available.
“We showed him the utmost sincerity in our offer,” Setoyama said. “We told him there would be no new proposal. If he didn’t like this, it just couldn’t be helped.”
The club apparently made an unchanged offer of 250 million yen in salary, including performance-based incentives, for a one-year contract and left out a guarantee of more defensive opportunities.
Last season, Lee led his team with 30 homers and posted 82 RBI in his second year in Japan to help lead Lotte to its first Japan Series title in 31 years.
He homered three times in the Japan Series in Lotte’s four-game sweep of the Hanshin Tigers.