Managers call for more trades in KBO LeagueIt’s been just two weeks since the Hanwha Eagles and the Nexen Heroes conducted the season’s first trade, but it’s already starting to pay dividends for the Eagles.
On April 8, the Eagles traded pitcher Yang Hoon for catcher Heo Do-hwan and outfielder Lee Sung-yul from the Heroes. Lee has been performing especially well, collecting nine hits, including two home runs, with 6 RBIs in his 28 bats for the Eagles since the swap.
Managers in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) league agree that trades are essential to boosting their clubs’ competitiveness. Signing free agents can also help, but doing so is expensive.
“The Korean baseball market is small, so teams should trade more aggressively,” said Eagles manager Kim Sung-keun. “There should be no fear of trade failures.”
LG Twins manager Yang Sang-moon agreed, saying trading is a “win-win” for each club.
“Teams can have a conflict of their interests,” he said. “But if teams just think that they yield a little bit of their interest, trades can be a big help to upgrade their strength.”
The Heroes have been the most active KBO team in trades, making at least one every year since 2009. Many of the Seoul-based club’s current core members are the result of swaps, including Park Byung-ho, Seo Dong-wook and Yoon Suk-min.
The trades seem to also benefit the players who’ve left - former players like Choi Kyung-chul, Jun Yu-soo and Ji Seok-hun are all playing well after being switched.
“We believe in releasing the players on our ‘Team C,’?” said Heroes manager Yeom Kyung-yup. “There are players who don’t shine with us but can shine in other places.”
Trade has been also been an effective strategy for rookie clubs, which are always eager to reinforce their roster with better players. The NC Dinos, which made their KBO League debut in 2013, avoided last place in their first year by actively trading.
In late 2012, the Changwon-based club exchanged pitcher Kim Tae-hyung for Heroes pitcher Lim Chang-min and infielder Cha Hwa-joon.
In April 2013, when the defense looked shaky, the Dinos then swapped pitchers Song Shin-young and Shin Jae-young for Heroes’ infielders Lee Chang-seob and Ji Seok-hun, as well as outfielder Park Jeong-jun.
“If you think about what you’re going to lose, you can’t make a trade,” said Dinos manager Kim Kyung-moon. “In order for Korean professional baseball to develop more, teams need to be more active about trading. Our team is always open to trades.”
Cho Bum-hyun, who leads rookie club KT Wiz, also agrees that trade is essential. The bottom-ranked Wiz is having a tough first season, as its roster isn’t as deep as other teams.
The Wiz on Monday made its first trade with LG Twins. The Suwon-based club traded its pitcher Lee Jun-hyung for Twins’ catcher Yoon Yo-sup and infielder Park Yong-keun.
“Park can play various positions in the infield and can stabilize the defense,” Cho said. “Yoon as a catcher we still need to see, but he will be helpful to our offense.”
Wiz general manager Kim Jin-hoon said that the team will keep looking for trade opportunities.
“We want to make trades that satisfy the interests of both teams,” Kim said. “But we are always open to trades because they enhances the overall quality of the game.”
BY SEO JI-YEONG, JOO KYUNG-DON [firstname.lastname@example.org]