The hot FA market is in the process of organizing.
This winter, a major movement took place around the catcher market. All four key free agent catchers, including Yang Eui-ji, Yoo Gang-nam, Park Se-hyeok, and Park Dong-won, moved to the team under large contracts.
Among the 7 remaining players in the market, Lee Jae-hak and Shin Bong-ki each received an offer from their team. Lee Jae-hak accepted this. On the 16th, he signed a contract with the original team NC for up to 3 years (2+1 years) of 900 million won and chose the franchise path. Shin Bong-gi is struggling with the conditions presented by KT, the original club.
The five players, including Jeong Chan-heon, Han Hyun-hee, Kwon Hee-dong, Lee Myeong-gi, and Kang Yun-gu, are signs of a long-term game. Considering the year-end atmosphere, we cannot rule out the possibility of moving to January next year.
Large long-term contracts are unlikely to come out in the remaining free agency market.
However, the story changes when we turn to the non-FA multi-year contract market. A non-FA multi-year contract that has continued uninterruptedly since a year ago.
SSG Landers general manager Ryu Seon-gyu, who recently resigned amid controversy, opened the door. At the time, he signed a non-FA multi-year contract with pitcher Park Jong-hoon, who was undergoing rehabilitation, for a total of 6.5 billion won over 5 years (5.6 billion won in salary + 900 million won in incentives) and 5.5 billion won in total with Moon Seung-won 토토 (4.7 billion won in annual salary + 800 million won in incentives). Outfielder Hanyu Island also signed a long-term contract for 5 years and 6 billion won (annual salary of 5.6 billion won + incentive of 400 million won). Afterwards, the Samsung Lions signed the largest contract with Koo Ja-wook for 5 years and 12 billion won (annual salary of 9 billion won and incentives of 3 billion won).
Even after this season, non-FA long-term contracts came out. The Lotte Giants caught local ace Park Se-woong for 5 years and 9 billion won (annual salary of 7 billion won and options of 2 billion won). It is the highest ever for a pitcher among non-FA multi-year contracts.
This winter, Park Se-woong is not the end.
In the not-too-distant future, big players ahead of FA are expected to continue non-FA multi-year contracts.
Among the players who will be eligible for free agency after the season next year, the beast that draws the most attention is Oh Ji-hwan (32), LG Golden Glove shortstop. The season that proved to be the best in existence by winning the first Golden Glove in his life. He is a key player that must be retained by LG, who lost homemaker Yoo Kang-nam and fourth hitter Chae Eun-seong in the FA market this season. If you declare free agency and go out to the market and compete, you can’t just appeal to your loyalty to LG. The most certain thing is money. It is highly likely that deals of 10 billion won will come and go for long-term contracts of 5 years or more, including next year. The only variable is LG’s salary cap limit. Distributed technology that minimizes annual salaries in the first and second years is expected to be mobilized.
Kwon Ju (27) and Jaeyoon Kim (32), the core duo of the KT Wiz bullpen, are also potential non-FA multi-year players.
KT’s total annual salary for the top 40 players this season is 7,890,870,000 won. Considering that the maximum amount in the first year of the salary cap is 11,426.38 million won, there is more room than other clubs.
After next season, the FA market is not expected to be as hot as this winter.
There are relatively few big players, and it is difficult for each club to spend a lot of money due to the salary cap and the aftermath of the economic recession. However, most teams, except for LG, need to reinforce the bullpen. Attention can be focused on experienced bullpen pitchers such as Joo Kwon, Kim Jae-yoon, Kim Kang-ryul, Hong Kun-hee, and Jin Hae-soo.
Ace returning to NC, Chang-mo Koo (25), is also a player that draws attention.
A year later, he is not a free agent, but he is a symbolic figure as a young franchise star who will lead the future of NC.
In the context of the significantly younger NC entrusting free agency Park Min-woo with an exceptional contract of up to 14 billion won for 8 years (5+3 years) to play a central role in the field franchise, there is a good chance that Koo Chang-mo, the center of the pitching staff, will be preempted.
The pain of losing key players Na Seong-beom and Yang Eui-ji one after another in the free agency market for two consecutive years can also fuel Koo Chang-mo’s promotion of a long-term non-FA contract. It is also a good thing that even Noh Jin-hyeok leaves the team and there is some surplus in the salary cap, which was set aside for Yang Eui-ji.