With the 2023 season having come to a close with the LG Twins winning the division title, professional baseball is now entering a new war, with each team looking to improve their strengths and address identified weaknesses.
One of the most eye-catching teams at the start of the off-season is the SSG Landers.
SSG fired head coach Kim Won-hyung on March 31, announcing a team overhaul. SSG’s decision to terminate the three-year, 2.2 billion won ($2.2 million) contract of their manager after just one year was a strong one.
During the fall baseball season, there were several names being talked about for SSG’s new manager.
LG batting coach Lee Ho-jun was even rumored to be in the running for the SSG job. LG coach Yoon Kyung-yeop reportedly gave Lee “managerial interview tips” after leading the team to the unified championship.
The results of the interview have not yet been released.
With the SSG in the process of hiring its next head coach, attention is focused on whether the organization will try to make a fresh start with Lee or hand over the reins to someone else. On the 18th, five days after the end of the Korean Series, free agent (FA) eligibility will be announced. Players will then submit their applications for free agency approval, and the free agency market will begin in earnest on the 21st.
Pitchers Im Chan-kyu and Ham Deok-ju, who led LG to the championship, will be eligible for free agency.
Im Chan-kyu, who was drafted in the first round by the LG in 2011, opted for ‘free agency’ due to his poor performance last season. This year, 온라인카지노 he bounced back with 14 wins (3 losses) and helped the team win the overall title, increasing his value.
For KT Wiz bullpen pitcher Kim Jae-yoon, who will be entering the free agent market, the Korean Series was a disappointment. The closer had recently recorded 30 saves in three consecutive years, but struggled in Game 3 of the Korean Series, giving up five runs on three hits and two home runs.
The biggest name in the bullpen is Yang Seok-hwan of the Doosan Bears.
Despite calling Jamsil Stadium home, Yang has proven his offensive prowess, hitting over 20 home runs in three straight years. Kim Sun-bin of the KIA Tigers and Ahn Chi-hong and Jeon Jun-woo of the Lotte Giants are also eligible for free agency this winter.
Another name that will be hot this winter is Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom Heroes).
Lee, who was drafted by Nexen (now Kiwoom) in 2017 and has played seven seasons in the KBO, will knock on the door of the big leagues this winter through the posting system. Unlike free agency, the posting system allows the original club to receive a posting fee (transfer fee).
Last season, Lee won his first Most Valuable Player (MVP) award after winning five batting titles (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage), batting .340 with 1181 hits, 65 home runs, 515 RBIs, 581 runs scored, and 69 stolen bases in 884 career games.
Injuries have limited him to just 86 games this year, but he’s already generating interest in the United States. San Francisco Giants general manager Pete Putilla traveled to Korea to see Lee, and local media have been reporting on teams interested in Lee.
A total of five players have crossed over from the KBO to the U.S. through the posting system. Most recently, Kim Ha-seong (San Diego Padres) left Kiwoom to join the San Diego Padres for the 2021 season. Kim’s former teammate, Lee Jung-hoo, is preparing to become the sixth KBO player to use the posting system.