One of the keywords that dominated the KBO League free agent (FA) market in 2023 was ‘catcher.’ There are a lot of good catchers on the market. Amid fierce competition between each club, all players completed the FA qualification event with relatively good treatment.
Yang Eui-ji, who is considered the best catcher in the league, again joined his former team Doosan for a total of 15.2 billion won over 4+2 years. Yang Eui-ji transferred to NC four years ago on a large contract worth 12.5 billion won for 4 years, and wrote a new era in the history of the KBO League free agent market by signing two consecutive contracts worth 10 billion won. After Kim Gwang-hyun (SSG, 4 years, 15.1 billion won) broke the record of Lee Dae-ho and Na Seong-beom (total amount of 15 billion won), the industry consensus is that Doosan also set a new record of 15.2 billion won.
Next, Yoo Kang-nam signed a four-year contract with Lotte worth a total of 8 billion won, and at the same time, Park Dong-won signed a four-year contract with LG, where Yoo Kang-nam left, for 6.5 billion won. The two players’ contracts were officially announced at the same time. Park Se-hyuk, the last remaining player, also signed a four-year contract with NC, where Yang Eui-ji left, for a total of 4.6 billion won, ending the catcher free agent market frenzy. The assessment was that there were no losers. In the industry, there was also frequent evaluation that “the amount increased more than expected.”
Yang Eui-ji is a 36-year-old player. It was surprising that a 36-year-old player signed a free agent contract worth a total of 15.2 billion won, but it was also surprising that he was guaranteed a contract of up to 6 years (4+2 years). On the other hand, Yoo Kang-nam, Park Se-hyuk, and Park Dong-won have lower offensive production than other fielders who received similar amounts of money. In the end, it must be said that the position of ‘catcher’ had a significant impact on the contract amount. The era has come where catchers are worth gold.
Many teams try to solve this problem by developing catchers themselves, but in reality, it takes a very long time to raise the catcher to the desired level. The KBO League is not a major league. It is a very unique league in which all 10 teams are running with the hope of winning. It is difficult to wait for the time it takes to develop a catcher, and for this reason, teams that have catcher problems often buy them as free agents or recruit them through trade. Once a player takes a position in the first team, catcher is a position that can be utilized in some way.
The proposition that catchers are worth gold was recently proven again when Kim Tae-goon signed a non-FA multi-year contract with KIA for a total of 2.5 billion won over three years. Taegun Kim is not a good offensive player in his career. Taegun Kim’s career score in adjusted scoring production (wRC+) compiled by statistics website ‘Statis’ is only 61.5. He only scored 68.9 this year as well. However, he has pretty solid defensive abilities and is a veteran catcher who has played in 1295 games in the KBO League. He was a must-capture player for KIA, which was having difficulty forming a catcher lineup.
Despite such offensive production, the reason he received 2.5 billion won over 3 years is also a premium for the position of catcher. So, after all the catcher contracts have been swept away, the last remaining player for the time being is Kim Min-sik (SSG). Kim Min-sik will qualify as a free agent after this season. He is likely to have high expectations as it is his first free agent qualification event.
It is very likely that Kim Tae-gun’s contract will also become a milestone for Kim Min-sik’s contract. This is because the two players have many similarities. First of all, we are the same age, born in 1989. Although Kim Tae-goon has more total appearances, his total offensive production is almost the same. The industry’s opinion is that there is no significant difference in the defensive ability evaluated by the field. Even the agency is the same. It is very likely that Kim Tae-gun’s contract will be used as a reference for Kim Min-sik’s contract.메이저놀이터
SSG also discussed various options, including a non-FA multi-year contract, after the end of last season. However, due to various reasons, it did not reach the stage of completion. It is known that there was an in-depth discussion this season on how to reorganize the catcher lineup if Kim Min-sik is missed. First of all, with the market alternative like Kim Tae-gun gone, the market trend also became interesting.