It’s been a busy day for Samsung. From signing free agent Kim Jae-yoon (33) to the second round of the draft, it was all in one day. Lee Jong-yeol, 50, was all smiles.

The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) and 10 teams held the 2023 secondary draft on Feb. 22. A total of 22 players were selected and changed teams.

Samsung took a total of three players. It selected LG left-hander Choi Sung-hoon (34) in the first round and called up Kiwoom sidearm Yang Hyun (31) in the second round. In the third round, they selected Kiwoom infielder Jeon Byung-woo (31).

We focused on reinforcing the mound. A lefty bullpen arm and a righty sidearm. Although Woo Gyu-min left after being designated for assignment by KT, the team succeeded in strengthening its bullpen by signing two players.

Manager Lee Jong-yeol said, “It’s a satisfying appointment. After an internal meeting, we concluded that Choi Sung-hoon was the most valuable player. Fortunately, he wasn’t drafted earlier, so we were able to bring him in. We strengthened our left-handed depth.”

“Yang-hyun has pitched multiple innings for Kiwoom. She is a ground ball inducing pitcher and can diversify our bullpen. She will be a great addition to the team. With the loss of Woo Kyu-min, Yang-hyun will help us minimize the gap.”

“He can play first and third base, and he can also play second base. He can play all positions in the infield. He is attractive as a right-handed utility player.”

Prior to this, they also signed a free agent. KT embraced Kim Jae-yoon, who was playing as a closer. He signed a four-year contract for a maximum total of 5.8 billion won, including a down payment of 2 billion won, a total of 2.8 billion won in salary, and a total of 1 billion won in incentives.

It is said that there is no ‘maximum word’ in the free agency market. However, there are quite a few players who are semi-class or above. Kim Jae-yoon was enough to make any team looking to strengthen their bullpen salivate.

Samsung moved quickly to acquire him for a whopping 5.8 billion won. In 59 games and 65.2 innings this season, he had a 5-5 record, 32 saves, and a 2.60 ERA. Since 2021, he has made 30 saves for three consecutive years and has 169 career saves.

Samsung has a “legendary” closer in Oh Seung-hwan. Add to that Kim Jae-yoon. Seung-hwan Oh struggled this year, but he came alive in the second half. Add in Kim Jae-yoon and you have an ironclad back door.

Lee Jong-yeol said, “There were good pitchers in the free agent market, but we decided that Kim Jae-yoon was the best. We made him our number one pick. We signed him to a contract.”

Last year, Samsung struggled in the bullpen. They posted a 5.16 ERA. It was the lowest bullpen ERA among the 10 teams. Knowing this, the team entered free agency and added two pitchers in the second round of the draft. 2024 will be different.

The team could add one more pitcher in free agency. “My heart is like a chimney. I want to bring more,” he laughed, before adding, “There are many things to consider, such as the salary cap. It’s not an easy task.”


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