It is extremely rare in the KBO League for a player who transferred after obtaining the first free agent (FA) qualification to return to his home team through the second FA. The compensation barrier is also a barrier, and having a player who has left the team again is emotionally burdensome.
There is such a case, and it is Hong Seong-heun (46). Hong Seong-heun, who received the first nomination from the OB in 1999, became the main catcher immediately after joining the club and steadily played the game, and was loved by Bears fans as a player with good skills and leadership. However, Hong Seong-heun, who obtained his first free agency qualification ahead of the 2009 season, moved to Lotte instead of staying in Doosan, and his relationship was temporarily cut off.
Hong Seong-heun’s four years at Lotte are remembered as successful. Although he was no longer a catcher, he continued to produce offense as a designated hitter. He showed top-notch offensive power, recording a batting average of 0.371 in 2009 and 0.350 in 2010. His remaining two years were also somewhat lackluster compared to the preceding two years, but he did his share. The value that the designated hitter can bring to the team is evaluated as sufficient.
Such Hong Seong-heun moved to Doosan with his second FA qualification, and played his last four years at Doosan to finish his active career. Hong Seong-heun, who had left the team, was recruited again. It remains a very unusual case in the KBO league.
However, Doosan again makes a decision to re-enlist players who left the team as free agents. It is Yang Eui-ji (36). Yang Eui-ji, who is chosen as the best catcher in the league, signed a 4-year, 12.5 billion contract with NC after obtaining his first FA qualification ahead of the 2019 season. At the time, Doosan had no choice but to give up Yang Eui-ji to NC’s persistent offensive. Rumor has it that it was difficult to follow in the money fight.
Four years later, the picture was reversed. After appointing head coach Lee Seung-yeop, Doosan relentlessly tackled veteran catcher Yang Eui-ji and made a U-turn with the largest contract in KBO league history, worth up to 15.2 billion won in 4+2 years. It was the best inauguration gift for manager Lee Seung-yeop, who had emphasized the need to reinforce catchers from the time he took office.
Hong Seong-heun signed a contract for 4 years and 3.1 billion won at the time of the U-turn, which was a contract located below the limited express when looking at the market price at the time. Age had to be taken into consideration, and Hong Seong-heun was a designated hitter, not a catcher like Yang Eui-ji. Hong Seong-heun finished writing his report card with good grades in his first two years and somewhat sluggish records in the last two years.
On the contrary, Yang Eui-ji is expected to put more pressure on his performance because of the overwhelming feeling given by the amount of 15.2 billion won. Yang Eui-ji is evaluated as a catcher with the best catcher lead and defense in the league, but he is also the league’s top player as a hitter. However, when there are both, the figure of 15.2 스포츠토토 billion won comes out. It is the view of most officials that if it is Yang Eui-ji, the designated hitter, not the catcher, the value will inevitably fall.
Yang Eui-ji turned 36 this year, and as a catcher, he has reached an age where he needs to take care of his physical strength. In fact, even in NC, Yang Eui-ji’s catcher participation tended to decrease little by little due to various circumstances. Yang Eui-ji played 1003⅔ innings as a catcher in 2015, and wore a catcher mask for 861⅔ innings in 2018. However, he did not pitch more than 800 innings in a single season during his four years at NC. Although there was an injury, it suggests that Yang Eui-ji needed physical strength in order to use it in a fresher situation.
Yang Eui-ji is still a catcher and is evaluated as having the stamina to handle over 800 innings. A battery coach said, “I don’t feel like my body has slowed down yet. If there are no injuries, I can play that much (800 innings) for the next few years. Even if that’s the case, wouldn’t the contract be a success?” During the six-year contract period, Doosan must go out as catcher as much as possible in the preceding period to increase the possibility that Doosan will recover the contract principal. Batting performance as well as catcher’s defensive innings are expected to be an important criterion for evaluation.