Lee Jung-hoo nets record pay rise

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Lee Jung-hoo nets record pay rise

After just a year in the KBO, Nexen Heroes’ outfielder Lee Jung-hoo is about to get a hefty pay raise. Lee’s contract for the 2018 season is worth 110 million won ($100,800) a 307 percent increase from 27 million won last season.


Lee Jung-hoo

This ties the record set by Heroes’ pitcher Shin Jae-young last year. Shin’s pay also increased by 307 percent after he won the 2016 Rookie of the Year award. Though the 2016 season was Shin’s first year playing in the KBO, he started his professional career in 2012 in the Futures League. Lee had not played professionally before this year.

This season, Lee played in all 144 KBO games for the Heroes with a batting average of 0.324, two home runs, 47 RBIs, 111 runs and 12 stolen bases. As Lee set the KBO record for the most number of hits and runs by a rookie, he was a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year even before the season has ended.

By winning the award, Lee also became the first rookie since Im Tae-hoon of the Doosan Bears in 2007 to win the award without coming from the Futures League. Lee’s new contract is especially remarkable as it exceeds Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ income in his second season in the KBO.

Though Lee has surpassed Ryu in the amount, the Dodgers’ pitcher still holds the record for the highest rate of increase, at 400 percent. Ryu made his KBO debut with the Hanhwa Eagles at 20 million won and in his second year he was re-signed at 80 million won.

Lee may have initially been in the spotlight as he is the son of Lee Jong-beom, the base-running coach for the Korean national baseball team and former KBO MVP, but over the season he has made a name for himself as the best rookie in KBO history.

“I’m very happy and it’s amazing to receive a hundred million won income earlier than I expected,” Lee said. “I’m thankful to the club for treating me well. By playing full-time, I learned that the professional league is different. I was also able to gain confidence [throughout the season]. I think the actual evaluation should start next year. Right now, I’m focusing on gaining muscle mass in preparation for spring training.”

BY PARK SO-YOUNG [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]
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