Pirates First Baseman Loses Arbitration Battle Amid Tension Over WBC Participation

Ji-Man Choi, the new first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates, has had a rocky start to his relationship with the team.

The Pirates recently raised concerns about Choi's participation in the World Baseball Classic, resulting in his removal from South Korea's roster.

Choi, who underwent a minor elbow procedure in November, expressed disappointment and frustration with the Pirates' decision, stating that he was healthy enough to take live batting practice and had been building up nicely for the national team training camp.

To add to the tension, Choi has now lost his arbitration hearing against the Pirates on Friday and will earn $4.65 million this season, after requesting $5.4 million.

Although $4.65 million is still a $1.45 million raise from last season and an appropriate salary, it is clear that there is a significant gap between what Choi wants and what the Pirates are willing to offer.

As previously mentioned, Choi was already unhappy with the Pirates after they traded for him this offseason and then kept him out of the World Baseball Classic.

Nevertheless, Choi is expected to start at first base and DH against righties this season for the Pirates. It remains to be seen whether the two sides can resolve their differences and build a stronger relationship moving forward.

Over his seven-year career, the thirty-one-year-old holds a .239/.345/.429 triple-slash line, with 61 home runs, 225 RBIs, six stolen bases and 178 runs scored across 486 games played. Photo Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports