The contracts of the three top free agent hitters have been finalized. Now, attention turns to the contract size of the only pitcher, Im Chan-kyu (31).
Doosan announced in a press release on the 30th that it has signed Yang Seok-hwan (32) for 4+2 years for a maximum of 7.8 billion won. The first four years of the contract total up to 6.5 billion won (2 billion won in down payment, 3.9 billion won in total annual salary, and 600 million won in incentives). After the four-year contract, the deal includes a two-year, 1.3 billion won mutual option that can be triggered by agreement between the club and player.
This makes Yang Suk-hwan the fifth player to sign a contract in this year’s free agency market. This excludes Oh Ji-hwan, who signed a multi-year contract with LG last year in advance but has yet to submit his contract and filed for free agency.
The clock has been ticking relatively quickly this year. On the 20th, just two days after the FA market opened, Jeon Jun-woo signed a four-year, 4.7 billion won ($4.7 million) extension with Lotte, followed by Ahn Chi-hong moving from Lotte to Hanwha for 4+2 years and 7.2 billion won. On the 21st, C-grade free agent hitter Ko Jong-wook signed a two-year, 500 million won max deal. On the 22nd, Kim Jae-yoon, a 30-save pitcher for three consecutive years, moved from KT to Samsung. He signed a four-year, 5.8 billion won free agent contract. About a week later, news of Yang Seok-hwan’s signing broke.
With Yang’s signing, the three top hitters’ contracts were finalized.
There were no ‘S-class’ players in this free agency market. There were no big-name players like Yang Ji last year (Doosan) or Na Sung-beom (KIA) and Park Geon-woo (NC) two years ago, but the three were able to sign for much more than expected. Jeon Jun-woo, An Chi-hong, and Yang Seok-hwan have signed contracts worth up to 19.7 billion won this year.
There are still some hitters left, including Kim Sun-bin, Lee Ji-young, Kim Min-sik, and Kim Min-sung, but they’re not as big as the aforementioned players. Among the bullpen pitchers, Kim Jae-yoon, the biggest name in the game, has already signed a contract. The remaining bullpen free agents include Hong Gun-hee, Ham Deok-ju, Oh Seung-hwan, Im Chang-min, and Joo Kwon, but their chances of surpassing Kim’s contract total converge to zero.
All eyes now turn to the valuation of the only starting pitching free agent, Im Chan-kyu. Im “Elin” Chan-kyu put his tearful past behind him and helped the team win its first unified championship in 29 years. He was eligible for free agency last year, 먹튀검증토토사이트 but had a dismal 6-11 record with a 5.04 ERA in 23 games. With tears in his eyes, Lim opted for free agency.
The free agent move paid off. In coach Yoon Kyung-yup’s season plan, Lim wasn’t included in the starting lineup. He was pushed aside by young pitchers like Lee Min-ho, Kim Yoon-sik, and Kang Hyo-jong. Im was supposed to be a catch-all bullpen role, but unfortunately, neither Lee Min-ho, Kim Yoon-sik, nor Kang Hyo-jong lasted the first half of the season. The starting pitching plan was completely broken.
But it was Im Chan-gyu who saved the day.
Lim took over the starting rotation in mid-April and finished. In 30 games (26 starts), he finished with a 14-3 record, one hold, and a 3.42 ERA (55 earned runs in 144⅓ innings). It eased LG’s starting woes and gave Lim personally his first double-digit wins and complete games in three years since 2020 (10 wins, 147⅔ innings).
Im’s return to the starting rotation and his strong start helped the team get over the hump. LG was able to cruise to the title. There’s no denying Lim’s contributions.
For starters, LG has been busy with offseason events since winning the Korean Series. General manager Cha Myung-seok had to put off free agent negotiations until the last 28 days to organize the 2023 financial statements to report to the group. He asked the agents of the free agents for their understanding. The delay doesn’t change LG’s intentions. LG needs him now, and he has a lot of love for LG.
In addition to Chan-gyu, LG should also continue negotiations with Ham Deok-ju, who was a left-handed bullpen ace. If I had to prioritize, the negotiations with Im should come first. There have been rumors that NC is targeting Im, but NC has no intention of entering the free agent market at this point.
This is a negotiation that may be uncontested.
How much would LG be willing to pay for him, and how much would he be willing to pay for himself? Lee Yerang of Rico Sports Agency, which has already secured contracts totaling 20.8 billion won for Ahn Chi-hong, Yang Suk-hwan, and Kim Jae-yoon (up to 5.8 billion won over four years), is Im’s agent.
Cha Myung-seok met with Lee on the 30th and held the first negotiations. Cha said, “This is the beginning. We should meet often and narrow the gap,” Cha said.