[스포츠서울 | 윤세호기자] Veteran infielder Seo Geon-chang (32) has chosen to play as a free agent (FA). He obtained the free agent qualification, but did not apply for free agent and became a player for LG. From December, Seo Geon-chang will sit at the table with the LG team over his salary for the 2022 season as a salary negotiator rather than a free agent.
The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) announced the list of FA applicants on the 25th. A total of 14 players appeared on the free agent market, and five including Seo Geon-chang obtained free agent qualifications, but did not apply for free agents. The challenge of Seo Geon-chang, who tried to gain competitiveness in the free agency market with an unprecedented voluntary reduction in annual salary a year ago, ended in this way.
It’s not common. A player with a high name value like Seo Geon-chang applies for an FA at a young age. Although Seo Geon-chang left a record close to a career low this year, considering the possibility of a rebound, he can sign an FA contract. Two years ago, second baseman Chi Hong Ahn also had a worse season than before in airborne, but signed a contract with Lotte for up to 5.6 billion won. Seo Geon-chang’s decline was greater than that of Chi-hong Ahn, and there is an age gap at the time of the free agent, but still, the free agent is an opportunity for players who never know when they will come back.
Of course, there is a possibility of success in retrying. If Seo Geon-chang makes a rebound, KT, in addition to LG, may consider signing an FA second baseman a year later. Park Min-woo, a former second baseman from Golden Gloves, can appear in the free agency market, but it is highly likely that Park Min-woo’s destination will affect Seo Geon-chang. Seo Geon-chang posted an OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 0.741 for the past three years. By second baseman, he is second only to Min-woo Park, Chi-hong Ahn, and Joo-hwan Choi.
The situation isn’t easy. The value of the free agent is determined by the size of the bet on the entire team. The price rises in a competitive structure between the so-called keepers and those who want to take them. LG could become free agents in addition to Seo Geon-chang after a year, Chae Eun-seong, Yoo Gang-nam, Im Chan-gyu, and Ham Deok-ju. There are five free agents up to Seo Geon-chang, but it is not easy to bet the highest amount on all five.
At the end of this season, LG coach Ji-hyeon Ryu said, “The contract issue is part of the club,” but said, “Personally, I like the type of player Seo Geon-chang. Seo Geon-chang is tenacious at bat and gets on base well, making it difficult for opposing pitchers. He’s the type of player our team needs.” At the time, Seo Geon-chang’s FA application was considered a fact, but Seo will also work with Ryu next season.
A prerequisite for a successful FA retake is a rebound. When he rebounds and the team achieves goals, he is recognized as a free agent. It is noteworthy whether Seo Geon-chang will play an active role according to Ryu’s wish and solve the tasks that LG has not been able to complete.