Forking out is already paying off for the Doosan Bears
The Doosan Bears don't often reach for their wallet during the offseason, choosing to develop new talent rather than investing heavily in the free agent market. This year the Seoul club broke that tradition, forking out to keep four of seven free agents including signing infielder Heo Kyoung-min to a huge 8.5 billion won ($7.8 million) four-year deal.
That decision is already paying dividends — after the first two games of the season, Heo had a 0.625 batting average with five hits and an RBI in eight at bats.
The Bears moved quickly to re-sign Heo, considered one of the biggest catches in the free agent market last year, when the window opened. Th club signed a four-year deal with an option of an additional three years at a maximum 8.5 billion won. Heo’s contract for the first four seasons, from the 2021 to 2024 season, will see him receive a total of 6.5 billion won — a 2.5 billion won signing bonus and 4 billion won in guaranteed salary.
This was big news for a club that typically stays on the edge of the FA market. Doosan has previously lost big names like Yang Eui-ji, now of the NC Dinos, and Min Byung-hun, now of the Lotte Giants, to clubs more willing to splash out on proven talent.
The Bears didn't really have a choice this year, as seven players became free agents, potentially decimating the club's infield. The Bears lost Choi Joo-hwan to SSG Landers and Oh Jae-il to the Samsung Lions, but kept hold of outfielder Jung Soo-bin, infielder Kim Jae-ho and pitcher Yoo Hee-kwan. Pitcher Lee Yong-chan failed to sign a new contract.
Jung and Kim has also got off to a good start. Jung, who signed a six-year deal at 5.6 billion won, has picked up two hits in six at bats for a 0.333 batting average. Kim, who signed a three-year contract at a maximum 2.5 billion won, has had two hits in five at bats for a 0.400 batting average.
Over in Incheon, Choi has got off to a flying start with the Landers, picking up four hits, three home runs, three runs and four RBIs in seven at bats for a .571 batting average, as of press time Wednesday. Oh has missed the start of the season with an injury.
BY JIM BULLEY [firstname.lastname@example.org]