The beast that prepared a handwritten letter after deciding to go to Hanwha…”I heard Kim Kangmin wrote it for a long time”

Since the afternoon of the 20th, the biggest story in the KBO has been Kim Kang-min. When the Hanwha Eagles used their fourth-round pick in the 2024 secondary draft to acquire Kim from the SSG Landers, all of Stablog’s attention was drawn to Kim, Hanwha, and SSG.

SSG excluded Kim from the 35-player roster for the Secondary Draft Protection List. Kim was informed in advance and asked for his understanding. He was born in 1982 and will be 42 years old next year, and the SSG assumed that no team would be interested in signing him.굿모닝토토 도메인

SSG general manager Kim Sung-yong said shortly after the second round of the draft, “We thought no other club would pick him because he was actually considering retirement. He was naturally removed from the protected list, but we are shocked that he went to Hanwha. We were surprised to hear his name called.”

But Hanwha was serious. Looking to bolster one of the weakest outfields in the 10 clubs, Kim, who still possesses league-leading defense and a rusty bat, was an attractive enough card. Kim’s presence was essential to the team’s chances of making a run at the top five next season.

After the second round of the draft, attention turned to Kim’s selection. More than any other big free agent signing, Kim’s departure to Hanwha came as a shock to the organization.

It drew more attention than Choi Joo-hwan, who left for Kiwoom Heroes as the No. 1 overall pick in the second round, or Ahn Chi-hong, who signed a 4+2-year, 7.2 billion won contract from Lotte Giants to Hanwha on April 20.

Kim joined SSG’s predecessor, the SK Wyverns, in 2001 and played 22 seasons with them until this year. In addition to posting personal records of .274 with 1470 hits, 266 home runs, and 674 RBIs in 1,919 games, he won the 2007, 2008, 2010, 2018, and 2022 Korean Series with SK and SSG.

Even after SK Baseball was sold to Shinsegae Group in 2021 and the team was renamed SSG, “The Beast’s” performance didn’t change. Kim’s presence in SSG is indescribable, with his number “0” being considered for retirement, and he showed his veteran strength in last year’s Korean Series, leading SSG to its first Korean Series title and becoming the oldest ever Series MVP.

For SSG fans, Kim Kang-min was more than a ‘legend’. He was also proud to be a ‘one-club man’. The unexpected transfer came as a huge shock to the player.

While it’s true that Kim had a poor season in the first team this season, batting .226 (137-for-31) with two home runs and seven RBIs in 70 games, no one expected him to leave SSG.

The fact that SSG’s new head coach Lee Sung-yong said at his inauguration ceremony on the 21st that he had not yet met or spoken to Kim Kang-min, the most senior player born in 1982, and Choo Shin-soo about their departures, “I have not yet met or spoken to them, but I will respect their judgment and (the club) will adapt to it.”

The juniors who played with Kim Kang-min for a long time at SSG also expressed disbelief. SSG ace Kim Kwang-hyun posted a photo of himself and Kim Kang-min on his Instagram, writing, “I’ve heard it said that social media is a waste of life, but I have to do it today. I respect someone’s choice, but I don’t think 23 years should be ignored. Goodbye brother… It’s really cold today,” he wrote.

SSG outfielder Han Yoo-seom also shared his mixed feelings on Instagram, writing, “Is this right, (Kim) Kang-min, I’ll go home soon.”

Hanwha made a small gesture to help Kim recover after the second round of the draft. Instead of reaching out to him right away, Hanwha President Son Hyuk gave him time to think.

After deliberating between retirement and extending his playing career with Hanwha, Kim decided to stay on the field next year. He made the most difficult decision of his career after being urged to do so by Son Hyuk.

Speaking to ‘X Sports News’ on the 24th, Son Hyuk said, “I called Kim Kang-min late on the night of the 23rd because the deadline for submitting the list of suspended players is on the 25th, so if I contacted him today, the player would have only one day to think about it. He said he would think about it, and we met at the Hanwha office in Daejeon, and it was decided that he would play for us next year,” he explained.

He also emphasized that he did his best to win Kim’s heart, saying, “I fully explained to him that he is an essential player for Hanwha and the reasons why I selected him in the second round of the draft.”

After Kim decided to play for Hanwha next season, he brought a handwritten letter to the team’s office. It wasn’t long, but it expressed his gratitude to the SSG fans and his determination to play for Hanwha.

In the handwritten letter, which was released by Hanwha, Kim wrote, “Dear fans. I was happy playing baseball as a one-club man for 23 years. I’m sorry that I feel like I’m leaving with nothing but debt. I will keep the unconditional love and precious memories you have sent me and try to make a comeback with a new team. Thank you so much for everything you have done for me.”

“Kim Kang-min wrote a handwritten letter with his feelings and we released it together when we distributed a press release stating that Kim Kang-min will be included in next year’s reserve list,” Son Hyuk said, adding, “Kim Kang-min told us that it was not long, but he wrote it for a long time.”

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