“40 years old? I’m jealous, I retired at 33…” Non-free agent signings make history, latte baseball ‘unthinkable’
“Forty? I’m jealous. I retired at 33.”
Kiwoom signed infielder Lee Won-seok, 37, to a 2+1 year contract worth up to 1 billion won on Aug. 28. The contract will take effect from the 2024 season. Originally, Lee Won-seok’s 2+1 year, 2 billion won free agent contract with Samsung expires at the end of this season. After signing this deal, Lee Won-seok has a new guaranteed 2+1 year contract, so he is a very happy player.먹튀검증
If Lee Won-seok manages to fulfill his 2+1 year contract, he will be guaranteed a contract until the age of 40, or 41 in Korean. The conditions for triggering the +1 year are not difficult. Kiwoom traditionally does not exercise options on domestic or foreign players, or if they do, they offer so-called “sweetheart deals”. The Lee Won-seok signing is also one of the least risky for the club.
Manager Hong Won-ki laughed before the Gwangju KIA game on the 28th and said, “Until 40? I personally envy him. I retired at 33.” Contrary to his memory, Hong actually played until 2007. He played until the age of 34, or 35 in Korea.
Hong was also a member of the free agent generation. However, it is true that he played at a time when he could not even dream of signing a multi-billion or multi-year non-free agent contract like today’s top players. Lee Won-seok was given a great gift in his final years.
In 68 games this season, Lee is batting .268 with 63 hits in 235 at-bats, two home runs, 21 RBIs, 18 runs scored, and a .683 OPS. He was actually batting around the .400 mark before the trade, but he’s been in a slump since. He batted .158 in May, but came alive in June, hitting .290 with six RBIs.
However, Kiwoom didn’t give Lee an extension simply because he played well in June. Of course, the offer and acceptance were made in the last four or five days, but the decision was based on the player’s performance and impact on and off the field in the two months since the trade.
Manager Ko Hyung-wook said in a phone conversation, “Won-seok did a good job. He did it so exemplarily well. He led his younger brothers well and was very grateful. Technical things are technical things, and I don’t live close to the players, so from a distance, he seemed to be good to his younger brothers and answer their questions.”
After Lee joined the team, the Kiwoom dugout became heavier and the atmosphere improved. Manager Ko Hyung-wook said, “Won-seok has played for Lotte, Doosan, and Samsung, so he has a lot of know-how from his playing career, and he talks about it well.”
Head coach Hong Won-ki also congratulated him. “It’s a great honor for a player. It’s a great honor for a player. It’s a great honor for a player to be able to bring in a veteran and give his experience to the younger players. It’s very good news,” he said.
“The older you get, the younger players come up, and the veteran is psychologically chased,” Hong said. The club has provided a stable system for him, and he will have another goal. I think it’s more about the team.”
It’s the first non-free agent multi-year deal in the club’s history, and the oldest non-free agent multi-year deal ever. It remains to be seen if this deal will change the trend of non-free agency across the league. The implications for veterans on other teams are also significant.