“I’m All Upset”… Top-class bullpen left unattended, Blows the Market

A colleague who watched the contract situation of the FA bullpen pitcher Hong Gun-hee (32) come to an end. Hong Geon-hee became a free agent for the first time in his career after finishing the last season. After playing for the KIA Tigers, he became a top bullpen pitcher in the league after being traded to the Doosan Bears during the 2020 season. Over the past four years, he pitched in 237 games and recorded 12 wins, 44 saves, 39 holds, 254 ⅔ innings, and an ERA of 3.46.헤라카지노도메인

He was as good as his performance. He had a good relationship with teammates because he was so kind and strong with his teammates, and he served as the team’s starting pitcher for three years from 2021 to last year, a year immediately after he moved to the Doosan Bears with the support of his teammates. Knowing that he is a sincere and good player, his teammates watching him face the cold wind in the market felt bad.

Doosan, the original team, met with Hong Gun-hee twice in about two months after the market opened. Negotiations were set up on November 30 of last year and on the 3rd. There was no progress in negotiations. Hong Gun-hee had to deal with the variable of having to find another agent urgently because of his personal situation with the agent who was in the first negotiation. It was his second meeting with Doosan on the 3rd, but the new agent was the first to negotiate. Doosan and the new agent broke up after promising to meet next time, but no additional face-to-face negotiations took place until the 11th.

The market was not without a lot of demand for bullpen. The Samsung Lions used both external recruitment cards that can be used in the FA market to bullpen pitchers. In November last year, they hired Kim Jae-yoon, a closing pitcher of the KT Wiz, for a four-year total of 5.8 billion won, and on the 5th, they signed a two-year total of 800 million won with veteran bullpen Lim Chang-min. Kim Jae-yoon was experienced in a close game, with a total of 169 saves and Lim Chang-min 122 saves, and the amount of compensation was not that big. Kim Jae-yoon was rated B, and Lim Chang-min was rated C. Grade B requires the original team to compensate 100 percent or 200 percent of annual salary, and grade C requires the original team to pay only 150 percent of annual compensation without a compensation player.

Kim Jae-yoon’s original team KT received compensation from Samsung for pitcher Moon Yong-ik, and received compensation amounting to 360 million won (34,000 U.S. dollars) (Kim Jae-yoon’s annual salary last year). Kiwoom, which is Lim’s original team, received compensation of 150 million won (150% of Lim’s annual salary last year) from Samsung. Compared to the big fish transfer, the compensation amount was large enough that the team didn’t have to endure significant bleeding.

Hong received an A grade, making it difficult for him to move to another club. If another club wants to recruit Hong, it must compensate 200 percent of Hong’s previous season’s salary, one compensation player other than the 20-member protection player, or 300 percent of Hong’s previous season’s salary. Hong received an annual salary of 300 million won last year. In terms of pure annual salary, he was paid 60 million won less than Kim Jae-yoon, but the amount of compensation is much bigger due to the regulations. In order for the batting team to recruit Hong, it has to pay 600 million won as well as one additional compensation player or 900 million won to Doosan, making it difficult to recruit Hong easily.

If he thinks staying at Doosan is realistic, Hong has no choice but to lower his eyes than the amount he wants now. Or he should be ready to endure like Lee Yong-chan (current NC Dinos), who came to the FA market in the 2020 season. This is a strategy to wait until the club’s instep is on fire after the spring camp or the opening of the season. Lee exercised his FA rights in the process of rehabilitation after Tommy John surgery, and when the clubs hesitated to sign the contract because they were not sure about his physical condition, he chose a strategy to endure until his body was formed to hold a showcase. Even after the opening of the season, he could not find his destination and had a hard time playing in the independent league, but he was able to continue his career by signing a contract of up to 2.7 billion won for 3+1 years with NC, which eventually became desperate to reinforce the bullpen.

Calmly, the FA market is the most frozen in the last three years this winter. Yang Seok-hwan (Doosan, 7.8 billion won for 4+2 years) and An Chi-hong (Hanwha, 7.2 billion won for 4+2 years) signed the largest contract, and most players are signing contracts according to the club’s circumstances. The salary cap system, which was implemented since last year, makes clubs hesitate by tapping calculators first when they have to spend a lot of money.

Doosan ranked first in the league with a combined total of 11.18 billion won for the top 40 players in salary in 2023. It had only 244.63 million won left on the salary cap of 11.42638 billion won. In the meantime, he spent 7.8 billion won on Yang Seok-hwan, so negotiations with Hong Geon-hee are not speeding up. A Doosan official said, “We have fixed the standard amount of Hong Geon-hee’s contract considering all salary caps.” He asserted that salary cap does not affect contract with Hong, but for that reason, it has not been easy to reach an agreement with Hong.

Pitchers rarely hit the jackpot in the FA market this winter. Kim Jae-yoon’s contract was the largest, and bullpen pitcher Ham Deok-ju signed a four-year, 3.8 billion won contract with his original team, the LG Twins. Lim Chan-kyu, a starting pitcher, stayed with LG, signed a four-year, 5 billion won contract, while Jang Min-jae, a veteran all-weather pitcher, signed a two-year, 800 million won contract with the Hanwha Eagles. Another bullpen pitcher, Kim Dae-woo, signed a two-year, 400 million won contract with his original team, Samsung.

The Doosan team will hold an opening ceremony at Jamsil Baseball Stadium on March 15 to renew its commitment for the new season. In two weeks, the team will leave for its first spring camp in Sydney, Australia. In the meantime, will Hong Kun-hee be able to share the news of the contract with Doosan? Or will he be able to find a new destination and prepare for a new start.

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