KIA salary contract completed
Park Chan-ho 300 million, Kim Do-young & Choi Ji-min 100 million, Yoon Young-cheol 200% raise
After finishing sixth in the league last year, which was expected to bring a chill to the overall salary negotiation table, Kia has finalized the salaries of its 2024 re-signees. Although the team failed to qualify for the postseason, many of the players who struggled last year received a slight increase in their salaries and look forward to 2024.
KIA issued a press release on the 26th, officially announcing that it had finalized contracts with 46 players for the 2024 season, saying, “Among the re-signings, 24 players received raises, 9 were frozen, and 13 were cut. Of the 46 players, the percentage of raises is 52.2% and the percentage of cuts is 28.3%. The number of raises is higher than the number of cuts, and the cuts are not very large, giving the impression that the sixth-ranked team has invested in its roster overall.
KIA said, “Pitcher Lim Ki-young re-signed for 250 million won, up 66.7% from 150 million won. Choi Ji-min received a 233% increase from 30 million won to 100 million won, the highest increase in the team. Yoon Young-chul, a 23-year rookie, re-signed for 90 million won, up 200% from 30 million won,” the organization said, revealing the results of the negotiations for key players on the pitching side.
He continued, “Infielder Park Chan-ho re-signed for 300 million won, up 50 percent from 200 million won. “Kim Do-young signed for 100 million won, up 100% from 50 million won, and Byun Woo-hyuk signed for 60 million won, up 25 million won (71.4%) from 35 million won. Outfielder Lee Woo-sung signed for 130 million won, up 136% from 55 million won, and catcher Han Jun-soo re-signed for 50 million won, up 19 million won (61.3%) from 31 million won.
Kia summarized the highlights by saying, “Lee Woo-sung became the first player to receive a billion-dollar salary after his professional debut, while Kim Do-young and Choi Ji-min became billion-dollar earners in their third year.
Park Chan-ho thrilled with first 300 million won salary, Lim Ki-young also recognized for dedication
Among KIA’s re-signees this year, it was reported that Park Chan-ho was the number one outfielder and Lim Ki-young was the number one pitcher. The two players were expected to receive significant raises due to their dedication to the team this year and their performance. Of course, their team ranking was only 6th, which is a bit of a loss compared to players from higher-ranked teams who performed similarly. However, KIA gave them a break and fully recognized their contributions.
Park Chan-ho has quickly become a Golden Glove-caliber shortstop with a .301 batting average, three home runs, 52 RBIs, 30 doubles, and an OPS of .734 in 130 games this season. Park has always been recognized for his energetic defense and wide range at the plate, but his lack of offensive production has made him an underrated player. However, he turned things around in 2022 when his batting average rose to .272, and last year he had the best season of his career with three triples in regulation.
He added 30 stolen bases, making him one of the best runners in the league, and his defense was stellar, earning him the Defensive Player of the Year award at shortstop alongside Oh. His season-ending injury was a disappointment, but he did enough to keep his spot. Park Chan-ho’s salary is also rising steadily. After earning 100 million won in 2021 and 120 million won in 2022, Park was paid 200 million won last year, and this year he signed for 300 million won, a 50 percent increase. This is the highest salary for a non-free agent player in KIA who does not have a multi-year contract.
Im Ki-young’s 2023 contract was also dramatic. After being a consistent fourth or fifth starter for KIA, Lim was named a starter heading into the 2023 season. He competed with left-handed fireballer Kim Ki-hoon and rookie Yoon Young-chul. While Lim was in good form leading up to the exhibition games, Yoon was ultimately selected as KIA’s fifth starter. Lim had to adjust to his new position in the bullpen. It was a discouraging situation.
However, Lim has made the most of his position and has become an icon of dedication, boasting a higher team contribution than most starters. Last year, Lim threw a whopping 82 innings in 64 games, posting a 4-4 record, three saves, 16 holds, and a 2.96 ERA. He started out as a long-relief pitcher, throwing long innings when the starters went down, but has since expanded his role to become a closer. He was not a regular starter, but rather an ‘any-call’ pitcher who was used whenever the situation was critical.
Lim earned 100 million won in 2021, 140 million won in 2022, and 150 million won in 2023. This year, however, he was rewarded for his contributions last year with an increase of 100 million won (66.7%) to 250 million won. Lim will be eligible for free agency for the first time in his career if he finishes this season on track. His final compensation grade is also a concern.
Kim Do-young and Choi Ji-min, the future of Kia, are in the billion-dollar salary bracket
Kim Do-young and Choi Ji-min, the two faces of Kia’s future, have joined the ranks of billion-dollar earners. Kim put his stamp on 100 million won, up 100% from 50 million won last year. Choi Ji-min, who earned 30 million won last year, also signed for 100 million won, an increase of 70 million won. This is the first billion-dollar salary for both players. It is a recognition of their performances last year.
Kim Do-young, a talent that the entire KBO league has been watching closely, was expected to be the most improved player before last season. Although he suffered a foot injury in the season-opening series and was sidelined for an extended period of time, his performance upon his return was encouraging. In 84 games last season, he hit .303 with seven home runs, 47 RBIs, 25 doubles, and an OPS of .824, giving fans plenty to be excited about in terms of batting average, power, and on-base percentage. Defensively, he also found some stability at third base.
In fact, his performance could have been worth more than 100 million won, but the team’s sixth-place finish and the fact that he only played 84 games due to injuries may have directly affected his performance. The number of games played is also a factor. In other words, if Kim is healthy and plays full-time this year and performs as well as he did last year, his salary could go up vertically. This is why Kim’s year is so interesting.
Ji-min Choi, who has gone from a promising pitcher to one of the best left-handed bullpens in the league, has more than doubled his salary. His 233.3% increase is the highest on the team. After a rough rookie season in 2022, Choi honed his craft with Geelong Korea the following season and made the perfect step-up with a marked increase in velocity. In 58 games and 59 1/3 innings pitched this season, he posted a 6-3 record, three saves, 12 holds, and a 2.12 ERA, earning him a spot on the national team. He also won a gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games, which paved the way for him to take charge of the KIA mound in any capacity.
Yoon, who pitched uncharacteristically well as a rookie last year, signed a final contract for 90 million won, a 200 percent increase from his minimum salary of 30 million won. Selected by KIA with the second overall pick in the first round, Yoon touted his relatively good command despite his lack of velocity, his unique pitching form, and his ability to throw a variety of pitches. In 25 games last season, Yoon went 8-7 with a 4.04 ERA in 122⅔ innings pitched. It was by far the best performance by a high school rookie in his debut last year.
If the team had performed well, he could have gotten a huge contract, but he signed for 90 million won, 10 million won short. Yoon Young-cheol, who is a strong candidate for the fifth selection this year, is aiming to enter the billion-dollar salary next year.
Lee Woo-sung, who was the team’s Cinderella last year, signed for 130 million won, an increase of 75 million won (136.4%) from 55 million won, also earning his first billion won salary since his professional debut. It’s been 12 years since he was drafted in 2013. Lee had a breakout year last year, hitting .301 with eight home runs, 58 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.780 in 126 games, filling the void left by Na Sung-bum’s long-term injury. This year, he’s expected to be even more versatile as he’s slated to play first base in addition to his traditional outfield duties.
Lee Yi-ri, Jung Hae-young, and Choi Won-joon will negotiate differently next year
With the exception of a few players, the salary increases and decreases were not very significant. It can be said that they did not deviate much from the salary flow in 2023. Jeon Sang-hyun (135 million won to 170 million won) and Lee Yi-ri (150 million won to 170 million won) saw slight increases. Lee Yi-ri, who was highly anticipated this year, only increased by 20 million won, symbolizing a challenging year. This year, he is still expected to go through the Driveline program, so it is hoped that he can make a quantum jump in salary. He has the ability to do so, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do this year.
On the other hand, Jung Hae-young signed for 200 million won, a 30 million won reduction from 230 million won. The team’s finisher had a shaky start to the season last year and was sent down to the second team to adjust his game. As a result, he didn’t contribute as much as he did in 2022, so his salary was cut. However, he finished the 2023 season on a good note after the mid-to-late season, so there are high hopes for 2024. Second-round draft pick Kim Dae-yu also signed a deal for 110 million won, a 50 million won reduction, and is looking forward to 2024.
Byun Woo-hyuk, who is expected to be the next main first baseman, increased his price by 71.4% from 35 million won to 60 million won. Meanwhile, Hwang Dae-in, who struggled last year, signed for 80 million won, down 50 million won from 130 million won, and reclaimed the title of billionaire salary earner. Hwang Dae-in is said to be performing well in winter training, so it will be interesting to see if he can restore his pride. Choi Won-jun, who was discharged from the military last year, settled for a freeze on his annual salary of 220 million won despite his overall performance falling short of expectations.