KIA has completed salary negotiations for the 2023 season. Among non-free agents, closer Jeong Hae-young (230 million won) has been reborn as the player with the highest annual salary. They are rewriting the Tigers save history one after another, so they deserve it.
Looking at the rate of increase alone, an unexpected player stands out. Lee Jun-yeong (31), the left-hander, recorded the highest 109%. 스포츠토토 Lee Jun-young received 67 million won in the 2022 season. However, he receives 140 million won this season. That’s why his high grades were high. He was very active with 1 win, 1 loss, 1 save and 17 holds with an ERA of 2.91 in 75 games.
After joining in the 2nd 4th round in 2015 with the 42nd rank, it was the best season of his life. As a lefty hitter specialist, he recorded a batting average of 0.222 for lefties. Although he had a high right-handed batting average of 0.283, the sample was not large. His quality has improved to such an extent that the slider of his main weapon is precisely inserted into the body of a right-handed hitter. Based on the baseball statistics site Statties, the slider hit rate was stable at 0.231.
Even after Lee Jun-young went to business, he only had an average ERA of 5-6 points. He was on the verge of losing his presence in the first team, let alone entering the 100 million won annual salary range. However, with the help of pitching coach Seo Jae-eung, a small miracle occurred as he brought his arms close to level.
In fact, Lee Jun-young lowered the height of his right arm a little during the 2022 season, naturally reducing the swing width of his left arm a little. As his pitches were balanced, he improved the quality of his fastball and slider. His pitches are monotonous, but he’s a specialist anyway, so there’s no big problem.
The KIA bullpen didn’t have a good left hand until last year. The dependence on Lee Jun-young was absolutely high. Moreover, considering that Triple J (Jung Hae-young, Jang Hyeon-shik, and Jeon Sang-hyun) left their seats one after another due to injury issues in the middle of the season, and even took over their share, the 109% increase in annual salary is reasonable.
Lee Joon-young can relieve some of the burden this season. This is because KIA is showing signs of becoming a left-handed pitcher kingdom. At least one of Kim Ki-hoon and rookie Yoon Young-chul, who will join the competition for starting positions, can join the bullpen. Kim Ki-hoon’s power in the bullpen was already confirmed at the end of last season. There are signs that the texture of the KIA mound, which will be enriched from the existing Triple J to the left-hander, will improve. Lee Joon-young opened an era of success.