The Samsung Lions and KIA Tigers have finally made a catcher trade. Samsung executed a one-for-one trade on Friday, sending catcher Kim Tae-gun (33) to KIA for infielder Ryu Ji-hyuk (29).
The stakes were high. Samsung, which had three main catchers in Kang Min-ho, Kim Tae-gun, and Kim Jae-sung, wanted to use the catcher card to bolster a weak position, while KIA, which had shown weaknesses in the catcher position before the season, needed to bolster its infield. The two teams’ interests were clear, and trade speculation between the two teams had been brewing all season. Negotiations stalled due to the cards not being in their favor, but the two teams finally came to an agreement late in the first half of the season when they were at the bottom of the standings and made the desired trade.
Not coincidentally, the trade came with some “pain” for both KIA and Samsung. Kia’s failed signing of Park Dong-won (now with LG) and Samsung’s first failed trade were bitter memories.
Kia had a clear catcher’s card last year. They had acquired Park Dong-won from the Kiwoom Heroes in a trade and erased their catching woes. However, this happiness lasted less than half a year. When Park Dong-won left the team as a free agent right after last season, KIA lost a solid catcher. The team was devastated to lose their “championship catcher” Kim Min-sik to free agency. To make matters worse, it was revealed that former team president Jang Jeong-seok was involved in the failure to sign Park Dong-won. After half a year of searching for a catcher, Kia joined forces with Samsung. 안전사이트
Samsung had been publicly declaring their desire to trade for a catcher since last winter. However, it wasn’t easy to get the right fit. Injuries to Kim Jae-sung (strained oblique muscle) and Kim Tae-gun (acute hepatitis) at the start of the season derailed the discussions. In the meantime, Samsung made a trade for veteran infielder Lee Won-seok and gave Kiwoom a rookie designation to acquire a bullpen pitcher (Kim Tae-hoon). But so far, it seems to be a losing proposition. The pitching staff is struggling, and the young infield without Lee Won-seok is making frequent errors and showing its inexperience on offense.
At this point, Kim Tae-gun and Ryu Ji-hyuk are essential to their respective teams. Kim Tae-gun, who has a lot of experience as a catcher, can solve KIA’s backstop problems, while Ryu Ji-hyuk, an all-weather infielder in his 20s, can erase Samsung’s inexperience problems. They are also known for their integrity and locker room leadership in their previous teams, which will have a positive effect on the entire squad. It will be interesting to see if these two teams, who have had their share of heartbreaks, can smile on this trade.