When the KIA Tigers acquired Kim Tae-gun in a trade on May 5, it was a mixed bag.
Along with hopes that the veteran catcher would be the key to stabilizing a shaky Kia bullpen, some were concerned about his status as a free agent after this season.
The pain of a year ago has not faded. In April of last year, KIA sent infielder Kim Tae-jin, a second-round pick, and 1 billion won in cash to the Kiwoom Heroes in exchange for free agent Park Dong-won. Most people interpreted KIA’s move to acquire Park Dong-won, which involved a significant amount of bleeding, as a move to sign him to a multi-year contract ahead of his free agency. In fact, KIA and Park were in talks for a multi-year contract, but the two sides were unable to reach an agreement by the end of the season, and Park left for the LG Twins as a free agent. Later, it was revealed that there were improper circumstances in the negotiation process between KIA and Park Dong-won.
After suffering through the measles epidemic, KIA belatedly started reinforcing the team by appointing Shim Jae-hak as head coach. Not only was the first team reinforced, but the existing development system was overhauled. This process led to the simultaneous replacement of two foreign pitchers and the trade acquisition of Kim Tae-gun.
The message of Kia’s choice to bring in another free agent catcher via trade is clear. They have no intention of repeating last year’s dissonance. They were ready to sit down at the negotiating table whenever a multi-year contract was needed, depending on Kim’s performance. However, with Kim’s remarkable performance since his arrival, which has not only stabilized the bullpen but also created a synergistic effect on the team as a whole, the clock on the two sides’ multi-year contract talks has been ticking a bit faster.
Kim Tae-gun’s performance in a KIA uniform is enough to warrant a multi-year contract. He has steadied the young pitching staff with his veteran-like lead, and he has also made a name for himself at the plate by delivering big hits at key moments.
This year’s free agency market is said to have fewer heavy hitters than last year’s, but the catcher could command a higher value than other players in free agency. This is due to the nature of the free agency market, where veteran catchers have become a rarity.
Kim first became eligible for free agency in 2019, when he was with the NC Dinos. At the time, NC had a starting catcher in Yang-ji and plenty of backup options in Jung Bum-mo and Kim Hyung-joon, so Kim’s value wasn’t exactly high. After a tug-of-war with NC, Kim eventually signed a free agent contract for four years and up to 1.3 billion won 메이저놀이터.
This is a different situation from four years ago, as KIA, unlike NC, has a weakness in that they don’t have a good backup for Kim Tae-gun in the first team catcher role. However, depending on Kim’s performance in the second half of the season and how KIA performs in the second half of the season, there is room for change.