In December 2021, Moon Seung-won (5.5 billion won for five years) and Park Jong-hoon (6.5 billion won for five years) signed with SSG Landers, marking the beginning of the era of non-free agent (FA) multi-year contracts in the KBO .And Ko Young-pyo, who signed a five-year contract totaling 10.7 billion won (9.5 billion won guaranteed, 1.2 billion won optioned) with KT WIZ on the 25th, is the 13th case of a pitcher signing a contract since the system was introduced. This year alone, Choi Hyung-woo (KIA Tigers) signed a 1+1 year, 2.2 billion won contract and Kim Sung-hyun (SSG) signed a 3-year, 600 million won contract, but this is the first non-FA contract for a pitcher since Koo Chang-mo (NC Dinos) in December 2022.Non-FA multi-year contracts have the advantage that teams can secure key players without competing with other teams, and players can play the season without the burden of an FA contract, but inevitably, the risk of long-term contracts is inevitable. In particular, among pitchers, Moon Seung-won and Park Jong-hoon, the first non-free agent signings, have not performed as expected, and Koo Chang-mo, who signed a six-year, 12.5 billion won contract with the NC, has been plagued by injuries since signing and has been effectively ‘closed for business’.
Only Kim Kwang-hyun (SSG – 4 years, 15.1 billion won), who signed in March 2022, and Park Se-woong (Lotte Giants – 5 years, 9 billion won), who signed in September of that year, have made a name for themselves .KT’s franchise star, Ko Young-pyo, was set to become a free agent after the 2024 season. KT set a goal early on to retain Ko before he hit the free agent market, meeting with the player several times to build consensus on a multi-year deal.After a year of reviving the pitcher’s non-free-agent multi-year contract, the next candidates are also interesting .Like Young-pyo, players who are eligible for free agency after the 2024 season are the most likely candidates for multi-year deals. Among the starting pitchers who are eligible, Choi Won-tae (LG Twins) is the most prominen t.Choi played for the Kiwoom Heroes last season before being traded to LG, where he won a dream championship ring, but struggled in the final stretch of the regular season and the Korean Series. With Kiwoom, he was a consistent innings-per-game performer and double-digit winner, so if he can regain his form, he’ll be a key part of the team.
For Choi Won-tae, the presence of Go Woo-seok (San Diego Padres), who was scheduled to become a free agent alongside him at LG, could be a good thing .Go Woo-seok’s move abroad has freed up LG’s salary cap, allowing them to focus on Choi Won-tae. KT’s Uhm Sang-baek, who has won 18 games in each of the last two seasons, is another candidate .Uhm won 11 games with a 2.95 ERA in 2022 to earn his first double-digit wins since his debut, and in 2023, he collected seven wins in just 20 appearances due to injury.Turning to the bullpen, Koo Seung-min and Kim Won-joong handle Lotte’s eighth and ninth innings. In preparation for signing Koo Seung-min and Kim Won-joong this year, Lotte effectively walked away from the Stobrigue, holding onto only their own free agent, Jeon Jun-woo. Given the scarcity of bullpen arms in the market, it makes sense for Lotte to lock them up to multi-year, non-free agent contracts. Im Ki-young (KIA Tigers), who can be used in both the starting and bullpen roles, is also a “preliminary free agent” and could sign a 슬롯게이밍 long-term deal with the club.