In the free agent market of the KBO League Stove League, it is generally believed that players have signed generous contracts. The total amount approached 100 billion won, and a flow similar to last year, which was called the ‘FA frenzy’, was created for the second year in a row. Attention is already focused on what will happen to the ‘ransom price’ of players who will acquire FA qualifications after the end of next season. Some players have signed or are pursuing multi-year contracts with their original clubs before entering the free agency market.
One of the players who will be eligible for free agency after the end of next season is Lotte Giants infielder Ahn Chi-hong. After the end of the 2019 season, An Chi-hong obtained FA qualification for the first time and signed a contract with the Lotte Giants for a total of 5.6 billion won in 2+2 years and transferred. After transferring to Lotte, it was a unique contract in which the player and the club could decide whether to extend the contract for another two years after the end of the second season.
Lotte agreed to a two-year contract extension with An Chi-hong in July 2021, before the two-year contract expired. 메이저사이트 Prior to that, there was also a story that Lotte put An Chi-hong up for sale, but as a result, it ended in a ‘happy ending’. It is interpreted that Lotte was satisfied with An Chi-hong’s performance, although there were not many successful cases after recruiting an external free agent.
This year, his third season at Lotte, An Chi-hong recorded a batting average of 0.284, 14 homers, 58 RBIs, and an OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 0.790. Although the Sajik Stadium was remodeled, it was unfavorable to hitters, but An Chi-hong hit the most home runs after moving to Lotte, and his OPS was close to 0.8. The WAR (based on the KABI report), which indicates the contribution to victory compared to substitute players, was 3.38, which was second among fielders in the team following Lee Dae-ho (3.76).
Considering the recent trend of rising free agent prices, if An Chi-hong achieves similar results next year as this year, it could reach a contract size similar to or larger than that of the first free agent. Infielder Noh Jin-hyuk, who was born in 1989 and first obtained FA qualification after the season at the age of 33, moved to Lotte for a total of 5 billion won in 4 years of free agency.
This season, Noh Jin-hyeok had a batting average of 0.280, 15 home runs, 75 RBIs, an OPS of 0.808 and a WAR of 3.32, similar to Chi-Hong An. An Chi-hong was born in 1990 and will be 33 years old when he becomes a free agent next year, the same age as Noh Jin-hyeok when he acquired free agency. Like Noh Jin-hyeok, Ahn Chi-hong can also start negotiations at a total of 5 billion won over four years. Of course, if An Chi-hong plays better next year, the size of the free agent contract can increase even more.
If An Chi-hong demonstrates the so-called ‘FA Lloyd’, Lotte’s chances of playing fall baseball increase. Lotte succeeded in strengthening its air defense power by recruiting free agents Noh Jin-hyeok and Yoo Gang-nam from the Stove League. However, there is also an element of weakening power as ‘Chosun’s No. 4 hitter’ Lee Dae-ho retired. It is important how much Ahn Chi-hong fills Lee Dae-ho’s void with a bat.
It is also important how stable the keystone combination of second baseman An Chi-hong and shortstop No Jin-hyuk will be. In January of last year, Lotte broke up with foreign shortstop Machado and traded Lee Hak-joo from the Samsung Lions.
However, Lee Hak-joo fell short of expectations throughout the offense and defense, so Lotte was unable to establish a stable keystone. Lotte, with the addition of trade failure cases, failed fall baseball in 8th place. An Chi-Hong and Noh Jin-Hyuk’s ‘FA Keystone’ airborne performance can determine whether Lotte rebounds or not. Attention is focusing on whether An Chi-hong will lead the first fall baseball after transferring to Lotte and reach the ‘FA jackpot’.