Neither Park Byeong-ho (KT) nor Kang Jung-ho (retired) nor Kim Ha-seong (San Diego Padres) could do it. However, Lee Jung-hoo and Ahn Woo-jin’s resolution was sincere. They also have gifts they haven’t received.
Kiwoom recorded three runner-up finishes in the Korean Series in 2014, 2019, and 2022, the best result since its establishment in 2008. In particular, in 2014 and 2019, it was possible to challenge for the championship, but the majority of analyzes said that it failed miserably. 2022 was not technically a winning power, but it was the result of tremendous propaganda.
The history of Kiwoom, a professional rebuilding club, has been marked with an inflection point with the release of major leaguers. After the 2014 season, Kang Jung-ho left for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and after the 2015 season, Park Byung-ho went to the Minnesota Twins. Naturally, it was completely rebuilt in 2016-2017. The pillar power that emerged from the exit of the two is Ha-seong Kim and Jung-hoo Lee. Ha-seong Kim also left for San Diego after the 2020 season, and Ace Woo-jin An grew into another core around that time.
Now, Lee Jung-hoo is also leaving. After this season, only the conditions and destination are of interest, and he will transform into the fourth major leaguer ever from Kiwoom. Lee Jung-hoo’s goal is also the same as Park Byung-ho, Kang Jung-ho, and Kim Ha-seong. Winning the Korean Series is like an unfulfilled long-cherished wish.
Park Byeong-ho came back from his major league career and once again built a championship, but missed the opportunity due to his own sluggishness and injury. Kang Jeong-ho took off his uniform disgracefully, and Kim Ha-seong was also one point short of winning. Lee Jung-hoo, who saw the regrets of his three seniors, is perhaps a lucky man.
This is because Kiwoom broke tradition and recruited outside free agents, even two, in the 2022-2023 free agent market. They brought veteran right-handed bullpen Won Jong-hyun for 4 years and 2.5 billion won, and right-handed outfielder Lee Hyung-jong for 4 years and 2 billion won. It was a recruitment that exquisitely scratched the place lacking in Kiwoom.
Of course, it was not the first time that Kiwoom recruited an external free agent. However, the only case was Lee Taek-geun (6 billion won in 4 years) of the 2011-2012 mayor. He had a strong personality to bring back a franchise player who had been traded to LG due to internal circumstances. In other words, Lee Jung-hoo prepares for the final season in the KBO league with the benefits Park Byung-ho, Kang Jung-ho, and Kim Ha-seong did not enjoy.
Lee Jung-hoo’s annual salary this season is 1.1 billion won. Excluding issues such as returning to overseas and non-FA multi-year contracts, this is the first case in which a player before obtaining FA status exceeded 1 billion won. Kiwoom has traditionally treated players with good grades generously, and Lee Jung-hoo has a strong motivation to win in many ways. 메이저사이트
An Woo-jin, who has emerged as the best pitcher in the KBO League beyond Kiwoom, also cannot know when he will have a chance to win if he misses this season. Ahn Woo-jin showed his best performance in the 2022 season, and his annual salary this year rose to 350 million won. For Ahn Woo-jin, winning with Lee Jung-hoo is the most ideal scenario. If Lee Jung-hoo leaves, there is a high possibility that he will become the ‘ace of the boy’s head’.
Basically, Lee Jung-hoo and Ahn Woo-jin are the best hitters and pitchers in the KBO League, which are very powerful. Both are undergoing thorough off-season individual training. If Hyungjong Lee and Jonghyun Won, who were recruited as free agents, add their strength and create synergy, Kiwoom can become a sufficiently competitive team this season as well.
However, Lee Jung-hoo and Ahn Woo-jin have to overcome many mountains to achieve the great feat that Park Byeong-ho, Kang Jeong-ho, and Kim Ha-seong failed to achieve. There are defending champion SSG, solid depth LG, and still good KT. The actions of Lotte, Hanwha, and Doosan, which have greatly reinforced their strength in the FA market, are also variables. Anyway, Kiwoom’s Korean Series winning front is not entirely positive.