Were you disappointed by Kiwoom? Why was it KIA
Veteran infielder Seo Kun-chang’s choice was his hometown team KIA Tigers, not his former team Kiwoom Heroes.
Seo Kun-chang signed a contract with KIA on the 15th for a total of 120 million won, including 50 million won in annual salary and 70 million won in options.
Seo Kun-chang, who graduated from Gwangju Il High School and joined the LG Twins in 2008, played 1,256 games in a total of 13 seasons in the KBO League, recording 1,365 hits, a batting average of 0.297, 491 RBIs, 813 points, and 229 steals.
In particular, attention is being paid to why Seo Geon-chang chose KIA rather than Kiwoom. Kiwoom is a special team where Seo Geon-chang had his best days.
After being released from LG Twins, he showed his true value as a member of the Nexen Heroes (currently Kiwoom). Notably, he recorded 201 hits in the 2014 season when he became the MVP of the regular season, and set a new record for the most hits in a single season.
However, Seo Geon-chang wore the LG uniform again through a trade with Jung Chan-heon in July 2021. He may have felt sorry for Kiwoom because it was ahead of the FA.
Coincidentally, after moving to LG, Seo’s moves started to get twisted. He chose to try again as an FA due to his poor performance in the 2021 season, but he played in 77 games in the 2022 season and only posted a batting average of 0.224.
Seo Kun-chang, who once again postponed his appointment as an FA, met with Yeom Kyung-yeop, a coach who was his teacher when he was with the Nexen Heroes, to revive his team, but was effectively classified as having a batting average of 0.200 and 44 games in the 2023 season. In the meantime, LG Twins’ new second base owner Shin Min-jae appeared, and won the Korean Series, and has been on a roll.
Having lost his footing in the LG Twins, Seo eventually asked for his release instead of applying for an FA. The first team to reach out to Seo was Kiwoom. However, Seo chose KIA, not Kiwoom.
Kiwoom began rebuilding when its flagship hitter Lee Jung-hoo left the team to advance to the Major League after the 2023 season. Recently, it has begun to rebuild in earnest, including sending out veteran catcher Lee Ji-young.
In addition, Kim Hye-sung, who is seeking to advance to the Major League, is holding the second base position where Seo Geon-chang plays, and Choi Joo-hwan is brought in through the second draft, which makes it difficult for Kia to compete. In contrast, it can allocate playing time with Kim Sun-bin, who is the same age as Kia’s second baseman.
Above all, Kia is a team that is mentioned as a potential winner for the 2024 season. It seeks to win the title by banking on old and new harmony rather than rebuilding the team immediately. Veteran Yang Hyun-jong and Choi Hyung-woo, as well as Na Sung-bum and Kim Sun-bin, who are the same age as Seo Geon-chang, are still core resources of the team.
In addition, Seo Geon-chang, who dreams of making a comeback, may have wanted to start with a new mindset in a new team rather than being familiar. In many ways, KIA was more suitable for Seo Geon-chang than Kiwoom.