MLB veteran Choi Ji-man to begin new season in minor league

Choi Ji-man of the New York Mets doubles during the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros  in West Palm Beach, Fla, Feb. 29. AP-Yonhap

Choi Ji-man of the New York Mets doubles during the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros in West Palm Beach, Fla, Feb. 29. AP-Yonhap

Korean major league veteran Choi Ji-man will begin the 2024 season in the minor league for the New York Mets.

MLB.com reported Sunday (local time) that Mets officials had told Choi earlier in the day he would not be on their Opening Day roster this week.

He will instead be with the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate, the Syracuse Mets, at the start of the new season.

The 32-year-old split the 2023 season between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Diego Padres but was limited to only 39 games due to injuries. He batted just .163 with six homers and 13 RBIs in those games.

Choi Ji-man of the New York Mets takes up his position during the sixth inning of a spring training baseball game against the New York Yankees  in Port St. Lucie, Fla, March 5. AP-Yonhap

Choi Ji-man of the New York Mets takes up his position during the sixth inning of a spring training baseball game against the New York Yankees in Port St. Lucie, Fla, March 5. AP-Yonhap

In February, Choi signed a one-year split contract with the Mets worth up to $3.5 million, including a performance-based bonus. Under a split contract, a player earns different amounts of money based on the time he spends in the majors and in the minors.

Citing a source, MLB.com said Choi declined to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract.

Choi has struggled in spring training, with a batting line of .189/.318/.324 with a home run and five RBIs in 16 games.

Choi’s fate appeared to have been sealed Saturday when the Mets signed veteran designated hitter J.D. Martinez, who belted 33 home runs for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.

For his career, Choi has a .234/.338/.426 line with 67 home runs and 238 RBIs in 525 games. (Yonhap)

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