“We want to have a conversation after the season.”
KIA signed catcher Kim Tae-gun, 34, to a non-free agent contract near the end of the regular season. But it only put out a raging fire. Without repeating the Park Dong-won (LG) nightmare of a year ago, they’ve laid the groundwork for a rebuilding Anbang. Now that the season is over, it’s time to start thinking about 2023 and preparing for 2024.
First and foremost, the Tigers need to retain Choi Hyung-woo and Kim Sun-bin, whose existing free agent contracts have expired. It’s unclear if KIA will be looking to sign outside free agents in the 2023-2024 free agent market. But what is clear is that Choi Hyung-woo and Kim Sun-bin are still needed by the team, and Shim Jae-hak recognizes their importance. Choi Hyung-woo has one year left before free agency, but he is considered a candidate for a multi-year contract.
However, Choi Hyung-woo and Kim Sun-bin are not the only big-name signings. Left-handed outfielder Ko Jong-wook (34) is also a free agent. Ko was released by SSG Landers after the 2021 season. At the time, SSG’s outfield depth was good, and the move was explained by the team’s weakness in defense.토토사이트
KIA made a bold move by signing Go Jong-wook. It was after the end of the 2021 season, but before the New Tigers under former manager Jang Jeong-seok and Kim Jong-kook. The way KIA uses Go Jong-wook is similar to SSG and Kiwoom Heroes in the past. He’s mostly used as a designated hitter or pinch-hitter, with left field being used only in desperate situations. His defense is certainly poor.
However, his batting has been unremarkable over the past two years. “He’s a batting genius,” said teammate Lee Chang-jin of Ko Jong-wook. His hitting skills are not far behind the accuracy and clutch ability of core hitters like Choi Hyung-woo, Na Sung-beom, and Kim Sun-bin. He makes good contact and is strong at the plate.
He has good contact coverage and doesn’t strike out easily, as evidenced by his .303 career batting average. He’s also very strong as a pinch hitter. His on-base percentage this year is a whopping .295. That’s not much different than his season average (0.296). While his defense may limit his versatility, he can start and pinch-hit, making him a very useful card for manager Jong-Kook Kim. In 114 games, he has three home runs, 39 RBI, 35 runs scored, a 0.722 OPS, and a .346 slugging percentage.
His adjusted wRC+ per Baseball-Reference’s Statcast was 83.6 and 80.0 in 2020 and 2021, respectively, which is below league average. However, in the last two years with KIA, they were 110.4 and 104.3. He was also able to fill in as a center fielder when Choi Hyung-woo and Na Sung-beom were injured.
In fact, he was a free agent after the 2022 season. However, Ko Jong-wook was grateful to KIA for taking him on during his tryout a year ago, and he had no intention of switching teams. He waived his free agency then, but it’s unclear if he’ll exercise it this time around.
What’s clear is that KIA should definitely go with him. At 34, he’s not that old. They have a lot of outfield depth anyway, so Ko’s defensive weaknesses aren’t that big of a deal. He played for 50 million won and 70 million won for two years. For KIA, it was a cost-effective ‘super-sized armor’.