The KIA Tigers have finally succeeded in staying at the internal FA Kim Sun-bin, which was the biggest task of the Stove League this winter. Kia, which blocked the loophole of second baseman that could have been created due to possibility, is now close to recruiting a new foreign pitching duo. On top of that, attention is being paid to whether it will also show interest in recruiting outside players to reinforce the infield depth.
Kia officially announced on Jan. 4 that it would sign a three-year contract with Kim Sun-bin for a total of 3 billion won, including a down payment of 600 million won, an annual salary of 1.8 billion won, and an option of 600 million won. As a result, Kim has signed his second FA contract since signing an FA contract with Kia in 2020.
Kim Sun-bin, who joined KIA in 2008, played in a total of 1,509 games during 15 seasons in the KBO League, recording 1,506 hits/batting 0.303/564 RBIs/ 691 runs/ 149 steals. Kim Sun-bin recorded a high batting average of 0.320 in the 2023 season, 134 hits, 48 RBIs and 41 runs, and has also demonstrated outstanding leadership by leading players as the team’s captain over the past two years.
“Most of all, I wanted to stay in KIA. I’m grateful to the club for offering me good conditions, and I’m happy to hear the Tigers fans’ cheering sound,” Kim said.
“I will devote myself to sports before the season and help the team to become a steady strong team. Although I have given up my captaincy, I will do my best to make my team stand on top of the fall baseball with a sense of responsibility as a senior player,” he said.
“Kim Sun-bin is an essential player for the team. As a one-club man, he has consistently played for the Tigers, and hence he has entered into negotiations with the determination that he must be caught unconditionally. As he is already a proven player, if he continues as he is, I expect him to greatly contribute to the team’s capacity,” said Kia Tigers head Shim Jae-hak.
KIA made all-out efforts to recruit internal FA players Ko Jong-wook and Kim Sun-bin this winter. In the early days of the FA market, Kia signed a two-year contract with Ko Jong-wook to remain in the FA including a down payment of 100 million won, an annual salary of 150 million won, and an option of 100 million won. Since then, the remaining negotiation period with Kim Sun-bin has been extended considerably.
No news of Kim’s remaining negotiations was heard until the year changed beyond the end of the year. In conclusion, the total amount was set at 3 billion won early, but a long-term battle ensued over the proportion of the guaranteed amount and the contents of incentives. Amid the lull in negotiations, the club recently proposed a revised proposal to raise the guaranteed amount to 2.4 billion won. In the new year, Kim Sun-bin made the decision after much consideration.
KIA prevented Kim from leaving a hole in its second baseman position due to Kim’s remaining. Although his defense and baserunning skills have been somewhat impaired, “second baseman Kim Sun-bin” has been an irreplaceable substitute for his batting ability. The infielders’ constant leading to third baseman Kim Do-young, shortstop Park Chan-ho, and second baseman Kim Sun-bin will be counted. Infielder Park Min-bin, who showed impressive performance after being dispatched to the Australian professional baseball league this winter, is expected to support Kim Sun-bin by playing the role of a utility covering all positions of the infielders.
Of course, more consideration may be given to strengthening the infield depth. It is external recruitment. It is a direction to reduce variables that may occur during the season by recruiting veteran infield resources. Veteran infielders that KIA may be interested in include Seo Geon-chang, Kim Min-sung and Kang Han-ul. Seo Geon-chang was released from the LG Twins and became a free body. Kim Min-sung and Kang Han-ul are on the market as FA.
KIA was extremely wary of showing signs of reinforcement outside its infielders before Kim Sun-bin’s contract to stay. This was to send a signal to Kim that it is doing its best. However, now that Kia has successfully signed a contract to stay with Kim Sun-bin, it can start considering recruiting outside players for its infielders Debs.
The least bleeding for KIA is the recruitment of Seo Geon-chang, who has no compensation. Seo Geon-chang is also continuing to struggle over his destination for the 2024 season even after receiving a proposal for the return of the “friendly” Kiwoom Heroes. However, as Kim Sun-bin’s remaining contract has been made, recruitment of Seo Geon-chang, who is limited to the second baseman position, seems to be extremely unlikely.
Kim Min-sung and Kang Han-ul can be widely used as utility players not only for second basemen but also for third basemen and shortstop positions. Of course, since the two players are free agents, there is a reward for them. Recruitment of Kang Han-ul, a C-grade player, requires compensation of 225 million won without compensation players. Recruitment of Kim Min-sung, a B-grade player, requires compensation of 180 million won and one player other than the 25 members of the protected list.
In particular, Kim Min-sung is a veteran who contributed significantly to the 2023 LG regular season championship. Kim Min-sung, who is highly regarded for his thorough physical management and diligent workmanship, is clearly an attractive card for Kia, which aims for “win now” in the 2024 season. However, if the compensation player issue is not resolved, it will not be easy to transfer to Kia.
It is curious whether KIA, which resolved the issue of Kim Sun-bin remaining, will start recruiting outside to reinforce the infield depth ahead of the spring camp.