Sun. Oct 1st, 2023

In the structure of the KBO League, in which half of the 10 clubs in a single league advance to the postseason, the recruitment of large free agents (FA) is largely divided into two categories. It is a recruiting for lower-ranking teams to immediately secure a sense of power and increase their power, and for teams with certain conditions to reach the peak.

The latter is often referred to as the ‘winner’s contract’. To some extent, the power has been created, and the last remaining one or two vulnerabilities will be filled with large free agents. This is the same as the KBO League or the Major League. Assuming a 4-year contract, there are not a few recruits who make a bet on the first 1-2 years. And there are many examples of real-life results.

In the KBO League, there is a general perception that “if you want to buy a free agent, if you want to win, it’s better to invest in a certain S class even if you spend more money than an A class.” Because such cases are piling up all the time. There are cases where players who surpassed the symbolic number of 10 billion won in total for four years contributed to the team’s victory and reciprocated their investment.

Ahead of the 2017 season, the KIA signed a four-year, 10 billion won contract with Samsung’s central hitter Choi Hyung-woo, setting a monument in the history of free agents in the KBO League. Although this record will later be broken by Lee Dae-ho’s 4-year 먹튀검증, 15 billion won contract, it is remembered as a historic contract that surpassed the symbol of 10 billion won and the highest amount ever in terms of a transfer student alone. After rebuilding to some extent, KIA bet a large amount on Hyung-Woo Choi to solve the problem of the 4th hitter, which had not been resolved until then.

It was successful. Choi Hyung-woo recorded a batting average of 0.342, 26 homers, and 120 RBIs in 142 games in 2017, the first year of the transfer, providing a pivot that was not in the KIA lineup, and KIA won the Korean Series in 2017 right after Choi Hyung-woo’s recruitment, and the investment paid off. . Choi Hyung-woo performed well during the remaining three years of the contract and recovered the principal investment. This is the first case in which the word “successful” has been added even after spending an enormous amount of 10 billion won.

Yang Eui-ji took over Barton. NC, who also had a grand dream of leaping from the bottom to the middle and re-entering the top, signed a contract with Yang Eui-ji for 4 years and 12.5 billion won ahead of the 2019 season and changed his uniform. Yang Eui-ji did not disappoint the club’s expectations. With the league’s best defense, pitcher lead, and powerful offense that is unbelievable for a catcher, he also gave a value of more than 12.5 billion won. Of course, he became the main player in NC’s unified victory in 2020.

Although it is a non-FA multi-year contract for his parent team U-turn, Kim Gwang-hyun, who has the aspect of recruiting ‘new power’ anyway, also led the team to win the Korean Series from the first year, further strengthening the KBO league’s belief that “S-class investment does not fail” did. Kim Gwang-hyun, who signed a non-FA multi-year contract for 4 years and 15.1 billion won, led the team’s starting rotation reliably, competing for first place in average ERA until the end of last season. It is not easy to imagine SSG winning without Kim Gwang-hyun. It was Kim Gwang-hyun who kept the mound the moment he won the Korean Series.

There are still more cases of transfers worth more than 10 billion won over four years and an annual average of 2.5 billion won. At the time of his first FA contract, Kim Hyun-soo, who signed a 4-year, 11.5 billion won contract with LG, and Na Seong-beom, who signed a 6-year, 15 billion won contract with KIA ahead of last year, are the protagonists. Both players have already accomplished quite a bit on a personal level. Both teams boldly bet on both players to win, and now it remains to live up to those expectations.

Kim Hyun-soo is evaluated for not only strengthening the power of LG’s lineup, but also changing the team culture little by little. In fact, after Kim Hyun-soo joined, LG continued to be in the top ranks, aiming for the championship. But I haven’t been able to achieve that yet. Kim Hyun-soo, who signed a new contract for a total of 11.5 billion won for 4+2 years ahead of the 2022 season, now has to fulfill LG’s long-cherished wish.

The fact that KIA gave Seong-beom Na a long-term contract of 6 years is not different from the meaning that it will challenge the presidency within 3-4 years, which will eventually lead to Seong-beom Na’s heyday. Na Seong-beom’s number of home runs decreased slightly last year, but he continued to lead the KIA lineup and hinted at the possibility. It is noteworthy what results await on the front lines of LG and KIA in the future.

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