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Why did Dae-eun Lee choose to retire from ‘KBO 3rd year’?

Oh Seung-hwan, the ‘King of the Finals’ of the Samsung Lions, who returned to the KBO League after five and a half years of living abroad in 2019, returned to the mound after completing disciplinary action against illegal gambling in 2020. 2.64 was recorded. And last year, the first full-time KBO league season in 7 years, he recorded 44 saves in 64 games, becoming the 6th save king in his career in 9 years. 2021 was Oh Seung-hwan’s 40-year-old season.

After receiving a notice of release from the Lotte Giants at the end of last year’s season, veteran right-hander Noh Kyung-eun did not give up on his dream of extending his active duty, and after being tested, he entered the 39-year-old season at SSG Landers. Lim Chang-min and Kim Jin-seong, born in 1985, who were active as pillars of the NC Dinos bullpen at the beginning of the foundation, and left NC at the end of last season, are also scheduled to start anew this year wearing Doosan Bears and LG Twins uniforms, respectively.

As such, the fighting spirit and performance of senior players leave a lasting impression on baseball fans regardless of their grades. On the other hand, there is a player who has decided to retire with only 3 years of KBO league experience remaining without fully showing his skills at the young age of 32, which is still sufficient to be active as an active player, making baseball fans sad. KT Wiz’s right-handed Dae-eun Lee, who announced his retirement from active duty through the club on the 13th, is the main character.

Dae-eun Lee, who joined KT in 2019, ended his active career with a record of 7 wins, 8 losses, 19 saves, 9 holds and a 4.31 ERA. ⓒ KT Wiz

After joining KT in 2019, he was active as a closing pitcher.

The Korean national team, which was preparing for the first Premier 12 in 2015, led by Kim In-sik, was in a lot of trouble ahead of the tournament. This is because the right-handers, especially the right-handers, were insufficient compared to the wealthy left-handed pitchers such as Kim Kwang-hyeon, Cha Woo-chan (LG), Jang Won-jun, Lee Hyeon-seung (Lee Sang-doosan), and Jung Woo-ram (Hanwha Eagles). To make matters worse, even Samsung’s 17-win pitcher Yoon Seong-hwan, who was involved in the away gambling incident, withdrew from the national team, effectively annihilating the national team’s right-handed starter.

The pitcher who emerged as the savior of the national team at this time was Dae-eun Lee, an overseas player who belonged to the Chiba Lotte Marines, a Japanese professional baseball team. Dae-eun Lee, who moved to the United States after signing a contract with the Chicago Cubs during his senior year at Shinil High School, even stepped on the Triple A stage, but ultimately did not receive a major league call and ended his seven-year life in the United States after the end of the 2014 season. And in January 2015, Lee Seung-yeop and Kim Tae-gyun signed a contract with Japan’s Chiba Lotte, where he started living in Japan.

In fact, Chiba Lotte’s expectations for a Korean pitcher without major league experience were not high. However, Dae-eun Lee performed a surprise performance by winning 9 wins until July and finished her first season in Japan with a decent record of 9 wins, 9 losses and 3.84. Dae-eun Lee participated in the Premier 12 tournament after the season ended and contributed 8.1 innings and five runs (3 earned) in two games, contributing to Korea’s first championship. Premier 12 was an opportunity to officially introduce the name Dae-eun Lee to Korean baseball fans.

However, Lee Dae-eun spent most of his second season in Japan in the second team, ending his contract with Chiba Lotte at the end of the season. Lee Dae-eun, who enlisted in the police baseball team at the end of 2016 to fulfill his military service obligation, was reserved for the first overall pick in the second round of the 2019 rookie draft. KT, who had the first-place selection right, called out Lee Dae-eun without hesitation, skipping the names of super high school-level prospects such as Noh Si-hwan (Hanwha Eagles), Jung Woo-young (LG), and Song Myeong-ki (NC).

However, Lee Dae-eun, who had no doubt that he would become KT’s new native ace, fell short of expectations with 1 win, 2 loss and 5.88 in 8 starts in 2019. Dae-eun Lee, who was moved to the second team in mid-May, returned to the first team after a one-month adjustment period and turned into a bullpen pitcher. After returning to the first team, Lee Dae-eun, who played an active role as a closing pitcher for KT, recorded a good record of 3 wins, 17 saves and 2.68 in 35 games. For KT, instead of losing the ace candidate, he gained a strong closing pitcher.

Deciding to retire while peers are in their prime

In 2020, KT aimed to advance into the first fall baseball since its founding, with a strong pil-seung team leading to Joo-gwon and Kim Jae-yoon and Lee Dae-eun. KT achieved their dream of advancing into the first fall baseball game in 2020 by placing 2nd in the regular league, but Lee Dae-eun’s name could not be found at the center of it. Dae-eun Lee started the season with a finish in 2020, but remained shabby with 4 losses and 5.83 saves in 20 games. Moreover, despite being included in the playoffs, he never got a chance to pitch.

Lee Dae-eun, who underwent surgery to remove a bone fragment from his elbow after the 2020 season, was cut in half (50 million won) in his annual salary, which was raised to 100 million won, hurting his pride as a right-handed ace in the national team, even for a short time. Dae-eun Lee, who returned to the mound in earnest in the second half of last year after completing rehabilitation, contributed to KT’s unified victory with a solid record of 3 wins, 2 losses, 1 save, 9 hold, 3.48 in 31 games. However, last year, he was not given a chance to appear in the Korean Series.

Closing KT, which holds the sovereignty of Kim Jae-yoon and the express set-up man, has a strong bullpen that leads to Park Si-young and Kim Min-soo, left-handers Cho Hyun-woo and Shim Jae-min. In last year’s Korean Series, ‘native ace’ Koh Young-pyo, who played 166.2 innings in the regular league, made a surprise transformation into a bullpen. In the end, Lee Dae-eun decided to end his player career after 3 years of joining KT, saying that he was not a strength to the team in the process of winning last year and that he may not be of any help to the team in the future.

Actually, born in 1989, 32 years old is not too old for a baseball player. Na Seong-beom, who recently signed a six-year and 15 billion won free agent contract with the KIA Tigers, was born in 1989 with Lee Dae-eun, and Yang Hyun-jong, who also signed a four-year and 15 billion won contract with KIA for a total of 10.3 billion won, was born in 1988, a year older than Lee Dae-eun. In addition, catcher Jang Seong-woo (KT), who worked with Dae-eun Lee on battery, SSG giant Han Yu-seom, NC shortstop No Jin-hyuk, and KIA second baseman Kim Seon-bin are players born in 1989 who are running in their prime.

Just as everyone has the freedom to choose a career, Dae-eun Lee can also decide on her own retirement date, which should be respected. However, Lee Dae-eun was a player that the entire baseball world paid attention to, and through his performances in the second half of last season, he was established as a bullpen agent for KT. Therefore, the sudden announcement of Lee Dae-eun’s retirement, heard during the KBO League’s inactivity, was news that not only KT fans, but also all baseball fans could not help but wonder.

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