Heroes source of off-season movesOff-season transactions in the KBO so far can be divided between clubs who pulled off mega trades with the cash-strapped Seoul Heroes and those who didn’t.
The Doosan Bears, Samsung Lions and LG Twins all beefed up their rosters at the end of 2009 through trades with the Heroes. Samsung received pitcher Lee Hyun-seung from the team, while the Lions traded for pitcher Jang Won-sam and the Twins nailed down a deal for outfielder Lee Taek-keun.
The Kia Tigers, SK Wyverns, Lotte Giants and Hanwha Eagles, on the other hand, are counting on players returning from injuries and mandatory military service to bolster their lineups. Having signed veteran relief pitcher Seo Jae-weong to a one-year deal worth 300 million won ($261,900) on Tuesday but failing to re-sign Rick Guttormson, Kia are looking for help from several other players as well. Kia, the defending champions, will be looking for big contributions from Shin Yong-eun, Kim Hui-geul and Lee Sang-hwa, who are all coming back after serving their mandatory military service.
Shin figures to be the best of the group. Prior to his time away from Kia, he posted 31 wins, 21 losses and 22 saves with a 3.33 ERA in six seasons with the Tigers. Competing in the minor leagues last season, Shin managed three wins, three losses and five saves. Kim also competed in the minors last season and posted the league’s lowest ERA - 2.19. Additionally, Lee posted a respectable nine wins and six losses in the minors last season.
The SK Wyverns, last year’s runner-up, lost Chae Byeong-yong and Yoon Kil-hyun to mandatory military service at the end of last season. The Wyverns are eagerly awaiting the return of Shin Seung-hyun next season. Having posted 12 wins and nine losses in 2005, Shin is recovering from Tommy John surgery and dedicated much of his time in the military to rehabbing his elbow. If all goes well, Shin can help the Wyverns starting rotation as well as the bullpen.
The Giants are also awaiting the return of Kim Soo-hwa, who has completed his service at Sangmu. He has the distinction of signing the club’s biggest rookie contract in 2005 for 530 million won. Kim has a lot to prove, but if he manages to improve his control, he can be a huge help to the Giants’ bullpen. Also returning to Lotte are infielder Sohn Yong-seok and outfielder Yoon Geun-young.
Hanwha will have outfielder Jung Hee-sang as well as pitchers Ahn Young-jin and Yoon Geun-young return next season. SK and Lotte are also awaiting the return of their ace pitchers and starting catchers from injuries. Kim Kwang-hyun suffered an injury to his left hand, and catcher Park Kyung-wan tore his right Achilles’ heel last season. Lotte’s Son Min-han is coming off an injury to his throwing shoulder and catcher Kang Min-ho is recovering from an injury to his right elbow. All four players are targeting the start of the upcoming season as their targeted return date.
By Huh Jin-woo [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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