It is said that ‘baseball is a pitcher game’. The pitcher plays a huge part in determining the outcome of the game. That’s why pitchers are so valuable in baseball.
But pitchers aren’t getting the spotlight in this year’s Stove League. As soon as the free agent (FA) market opened, a storm raged, but it was limited to specific positions such as catcher, and not applied to pitchers.
Among pitching free agents, there are only four players who have signed contracts: Won Jong-hyun, who transferred to Kiwoom with the first FA contract this year, Jang Si-hwan and Lee Tae-yang, who signed with Hanwha, and Kim Jin-seong, who stayed with LG.
The four pitching resources have yet to find a nest. Han Hyun-hee, Jung Chan-heon, Lee Jae-hak, and Kang Yun-gu have not heard of contracts.
While signing these four players is not expected to be easy, veteran Lee Jae-hak (32) also cannot laugh in this FA market.
Lee Jae-hak received an offer from the original team NC, but the gap at the negotiating table is seldom reduced. The exact terms of the contract proposed by the club are not known, but it is difficult to find an agreement.
Lee Jae-hak is one of the pitchers that symbolizes NC. His professional debut was at Doosan in 2010, but NC is the team that blossomed in earnest. He moved to NC, a then-new team through the 2nd draft in 2011, and in 2013, he even won the Rookie of the Year title as a ‘used rookie’. From 2013 to 2016 he continued to amass double-digit multipliers, playing as a native ace.
But this activity is a thing of the past. In the last five years, the only time Lee Jae-hak has posted a double-digit multiplier is in 2019 (10 wins and 4 losses). Even when the team won the combined championship in 2020, Lee Jae-hak was classified as an out-of-power player. The title of native ace was taken by left-hander Chang-mo Koo. 메이저놀이터
He got a chance to start this season as well, but didn’t get it, and ended the season going back and forth from the bullpen. His performance this season is 3 wins, 8 losses and an average ERA of 4.75 in 26 games.
NC has many young pitching resources with promising futures. Shin Min-hyeok and Song Myeong-ki have been stagnant for a while, but they are still promising starters who are gathering expectations. Kim Tae-gyeong, who served as a substitute starter in the second half of the season, also showed off his skills this year. Kim Tae-kyung passed the management exam and will be out of the team for the time being, but there are many other young pitchers such as Ryu Jin-wook.
Recently, NC reinforced the mound by recruiting Jeon Chang-min as a compensation player for Yang Eui-ji, a free agent who left for Doosan. In many ways, it seems to be trying to change the generation of the mound. It seems that Lee Jae-hak’s seat will not be large. As 2022 draws to a close, news of the contract may pass the year.