Hanwha emerged as another big winner in the free agency market, and its ‘take one or the other’ strategy worked.
On the second day of the free agency market, two players released by Lotte announced their signings one after another. At 9:30 a.m., outfielder Jeon Jun-woo (37) was the first to sign a four-year contract totaling 4.7 billion won (4 billion won guaranteed and 700 million won incentive) with his original team, Lotte.
After 3 p.m., infielder Ahn Chi-hong (33)’s contract was announced. It was not a re-signing with Lotte, but a transfer to Hanwha. The basic contract is 4+2 years for a maximum of 7.2 billion won, with 4.7 billion won guaranteed for four years and an option for 8 billion won. The subsequent two-year contract is a mutual option that must be exercised by both the club and the player, with a two-year guarantee of 1.3 billion won and an option of 400 million won. He became the second free agent signing and the first transfer.굿모닝토토 주소
Given the team’s need for batting reinforcements, Hanwha needed to sign a free agent. With no free agent bats available after next season, they couldn’t afford to let this year pass. Intense internal discussions began even before the free agency market opened, and Lotte free agents Ahn Chi-hong and Jeon Jun-woo were targeted.
In late October, a Hanwha official said, “Jeon Jun-woo is a proven hitter. He’s older, but he can hit game-changing hits. Ahn Chi-hong also has a good ability to read the game. He is a second baseman, so his position overlaps with Jung Eun-won and Moon Hyun-bin, but both of them have military issues that have not been resolved. We will try to sign players who can buy that time without distinguishing between positions.
The two players’ proven hitting ability was the biggest factor, but there was also another reason. Lotte realized that it was running out of room in its salary cap, the limit on a team’s total salary. Lotte signed three outside free agents last winter: catcher Yoo Kang-nam (4 years, 8 billion won), shortstop Noh Jin-hyuk (4 years, 5 billion won), and pitcher Han Hyun-hee (3+1 years, 4 billion won). The team also signed a five-year, 9 billion won non-free agent contract with ace pitcher Park Se-woong.
The team’s total salary rose 24.6% from last year to 7.102 billion won. While this is average, ranking sixth among the 10 clubs, it does not include the actual payment of options and average annual contracts for free agents. With the rising salaries of Jeon Jun-woo and Ahn Chi-hong, as well as two bullpen cores – closer Kim Won-joong and setup man Koo Seung-min – set to become free agents after next season, Lotte has no room in its salary cap.
Knowing this, Hanwha was confident that “we will be able to get Ahn Chi-hong and Jeon Jun-woo, one or the other.” They made a big offer for Jeon Jun-woo, but the player’s desire to stay was too strong. Lotte also realized that it was difficult to get both, so they made a firm offer to Jeon Jun-woo. In the meantime, Hanwha met with Ahn Chi-hong and offered the highest amount at once.
We needed to get either of them. Jun-woo Jeon is a very good player, but Hanwha is better off with Ahn Chi-hong, who is four years younger, for the long term. “We needed to sign a free agent, so we had to move quickly,” said Hanwha general manager Son Hyuk. “He was a player we really needed, and we tried to fulfill his needs,” said Hanwha president Son Hyuk. “Fortunately, our first meeting on the evening of the 19th led to the signing. It worked out very well.”
Ahn Chi-hong also said, “I’m happy to come to Hanwha and thank you for the great offer. I am also happy that I can prepare for next year with a fresh mind and a relaxed attitude.” “Hanwha made me a good offer and I was able to make a quick decision. During the negotiation process, they emphasized why I was needed at Hanwha. They emphasized how my presence on the team would fill in the gaps that were missing. I also chose Hanwha because they have a lot of young players, so I knew I would have a lot to share as a veteran. It was a good match.”
Ahn Chi-hong also said, “I received so much love from Lotte fans for four years. It hurts that I can’t be with them until the end, but I will keep the love of Lotte fans in my heart.” “Watching the passionate support of Hanwha fans, I thought it was really wonderful. I’m happy to be a part of the Hanwha Eagles and I’m looking forward to the new season with the fans on the field. I will do my best to become a player who can fill the gaps in our team and live up to the expectations and love of our fans.”