“We need both players, we trust the club” FAs Yang Seok-hwan & Hong Gun-hee to stay at Doosan? Kook Jin-ho hopes so
Doosan first baseman Yang Seok-hwan (32) and pitcher Hong Gun-hee (31) will be eligible for free agency in the upcoming StubHub League. Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop has a message for the club: “We will continue to need these two players in the future.”
“It would be great to have both Yang Seok-hwan and Hong Gun-hee,” Lee said at the recent Icheon finalization camp. I hope they will go together next year. We need both of them,” he said, emphasizing that he hopes Yang Seok-hwan and Hong Gun-hee will stay.
Doosan has seen a number of key free agent signings and departures from its dynastic past. While mainstays like Kim Hyun-soo, Min Byung-heon, Yang Ji, Choi Joo-hwan, Oh Jae-il, Lee Yong-chan, Park Geon-woo, and Park Se-hyuk have left the team on an annual basis, Kim Jae-ho, Oh Jae-won, Jeong Soo-bin, Heo Kyung-min, and Kim Jae-hwan have managed to stay, 카지노사이트 with Yang Ji returning to his parent club from NC for 4+2 years and 15.2 billion won at StubHub last year. It was Doosan’s first outside free agent signing in eight years since Jang Won-jun.
Now, this year, right-handed slugger Yang Seok-hwan and set-up man and closer Hong Gun-hee are eligible for free agency
According to Lee, both players are highly valued and have played key roles in the Doosan uniform.
Yang first wore a Doosan uniform in March 2021. LG general manager Cha Myung-seok offered Yang to Doosan, which was in need of a first baseman, and proposed a trade for Ham Deok-ju in return. Doosan hemmed and hawed, but ultimately decided to give up the left-hander for a starting first baseman. After agreeing to the Ham Deok-ju-Yang Seok-hwan swap, the two teams added young pitchers like Chae Ji-seon and Nam Ho to the final two-for-two deal.
For Yang, the move to Doosan was a godsend. He became the Bears’ No. 5 first baseman and a “trade bomb” in his first season. In 2021, he batted .275 with 28 home runs and 96 RBIs in 133 games, erasing the team’s first base woes and helping them reach the Korean Series for the first time in seven years.
Unlike his first year, last year was a disappointment. His nagging adductor injury flared up early in the season, and even after returning in May, he struggled with the lingering effects, finishing the year with an underwhelming .244 average with 20 home runs and 51 RBIs in 107 games.
This year, under new manager Lee Seung-yeop, Yang took over the role of home run hitter for Doosan. He finished fifth in the league in home runs with a devastating .454 on-base percentage with 21 homers, 89 RBIs in 140 games. Yang is a quality right-handed bat who has hit 20 or more home runs (28-20-21) for three straight years, and is expected to be in the mix for multiple organizations in need of first base reinforcements.
Hong Gun-hee, the ninth overall pick of KIA in the second round of the 2011 KBO Draft
became a Doosan man in June 2020 via a one-for-one trade for Ryu Ji-hyuk. He erased his black history with KIA. After being bounced around between the starting and bullpen despite possessing a strong fastball in KIA, he became one of the league’s top relievers with a strong fastball.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the trade changed his life. After pitching 347 innings in nearly a decade between his professional debut in 2011 and his trade, Hong reached 254⅔ innings in just four seasons with Doosan. He started the 2020 season with 68⅔ innings, followed by 74⅓ in 2021, 62 in 2022, and 61⅔ this year, anchoring the Doosan back end. In that span, he has 12 wins, 44 saves, and 39 holds.
This year, he served as the closer for Lee Seung-ho, giving way to Chung Chul-won at the end of the year, but finished with a 1-5 record, 22 saves, and a 3.06 ERA in 64 games. Hong also served as Doosan’s pitching coach for three consecutive years starting in 2021.
“Yang Seok-hwan is a hitter who can hit 20 home runs, and Hong Gun-hee has 20 saves despite changing positions in the middle of the season. It’s not easy to get players like that,” he said. “Yang and Hong are also trusted by their juniors and teammates. I need both of them, and I believe in the club,” he said, asking the front office to keep them.
Lee repeatedly emphasized the need for a catcher when he took over as manager last year and succeeded in landing the league’s best catcher, Yang Ji-won. It remains to be seen if the national batsman’s wishes will be realized this year.