‘4~6 billion’ free agent contract for Chan-gyu Lim, length of contract more important than amount…2+2 years, 4 years, 4+2 years, opt-out

The free agency market is quiet in December. After a flurry of signings in late November, there hasn’t been another signing in over ten days.

LG, which won its first Korean Series title in 29 years, plans to retain free agents Ham Deok-ju, Im Chan-kyu, and Kim Min-sung, but has yet to announce any signings. Team president Cha Myung-seok recently joked with free-agent pitcher Im Chan-kyu, 31, at an award ceremony about free-agent negotiations.

At the Ilgoo Award ceremony on Aug. 8, Cha received the Frontman Award on behalf of LG, while Im won the Best Pitcher Award. “It was quite difficult to gather 1.2 million spectators, and it was difficult to win the championship after 29 years, but the most difficult thing is to sign a free agent contract with Im Chan-kyu. Now the positions of Gak and Eul have changed. I want you to put a stamp on it while you’re here, and I want you to sign it instead of just leaving,” he said, causing the award ceremony to burst into laughter.

캡틴토토 도메인 When Im won the award for best pitcher, Cha Myung-seok delivered a bouquet of flowers and gestured for an autograph. Im jokingly responded, “I can’t sign a contract because I left my seal at home.”

The free agent negotiations were delayed as Cha Myung-seok prepared and processed the group report at the end of November. Also, Im Chan-gyu’s agent, Lee Ye-rang, and Ricoh Sports representative, Ko Woo-seok, traveled to the U.S. in early December to attend the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings, so negotiations have not progressed in earnest.

Rumors of 4 billion and 6 billion won have been floating around without any basis before the two sides have even met. LG and Lim’s free agency talks are expected to focus on the length and terms of the contract.

Lim appeared in 30 games (26 starts) this year, posting a 14-3 record with a 3.42 ERA. It was a career-high performance, ranking third in wins (14) and second in winning percentage (.824). However, he struggled in 2021, going 1-8 with a 3.87 ERA in 17 games, and in 2022, going 6-11 with a 5.04 ERA in 23 games. He could have been eligible for free agency last year, but instead opted for a second chance at free agency.

It’s possible that this year’s stellar performance was a flash in the pan, or it could be that Lee has rediscovered his pitching style this year. Lee has a history of signing deals other than four-year contracts in free agency.

Four years ago, ahead of the 2020 season, he led Ahn Chi-hong to a 2+2-year deal with Lotte that included an opt-out. Lotte signed the free agent for up to 2.6 billion won ($2 billion guaranteed, $500 million option, $100 million buyout) over two years. Ahn Chi-hong had an opt-out right, and Lotte had an option to re-sign him after two years or a buyout clause. It was effectively a 2+2 year, 3.1 billion won max contract.

Ahn did not exercise his opt-out and played four years with Lotte. When he became a free agent again this year, Ahn Chi-hong left Lotte and signed a free agent contract with Hanwha for 4+2 years and up to 7.2 billion won. He was also represented by Lee Yerang.

Lee Yerang is a big name in free agency. He also signed Yang Seok-hwan to a 4+2 year deal with Doosan for up to 7.8 billion won. Free agent closer Kim Jae-yoon signed a four-year, 5.8 billion won deal with Samsung, also represented by Lee Yerang.

Im Chan-kyu may want a more stable long-term deal than the four-year deal he’ll sign at age 32 next year. If Im is confident in his performance this year, he may want an opt-out clause, given the demand for free agent starters in the future. If he performs well for another year or two, he may be able to get a better deal on the market.

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