Lotte has virtually withdrawn from the FA market now.
Lotte has been quiet this winter. After signing a four-year contract with Jeon Joon-woo, an internal FA and franchise star, Lotte had to watch Ahn Chi-hong, another internal FA, leave for the Hanwha Eagles at a total price of 7.2 billion won for 4+2 years. Lotte intensively strengthened infielders including Oh Sun-jin and Choi Hang in the second draft to fill Ahn’s absence. It has also formed foreign players. It successfully caught both Charlie Barnes and Aaron Wilkerson who showed off great performance last year, and also recruited new foreign hitter Victor Reyes. In addition, Lotte acquired left-hander Jin Hae-soo through a trade, and expanded left-hander Lim Joon-seop from the released player market to expand left-hander depth.
There have been many moves, but it can be said to be a huge difference compared to last winter. Lotte’s last winter was just a “broad move” itself. The team made a decision to invest 17 billion won into the FA trio alone by signing contracts with catcher Yoo Kang-nam for a total of 8 billion won for four years, shortstop Noh Jin-hyuk for a total of 5 billion won for four years, and side pitcher Han Hyun-hee for a total of 4 billion won for a 3+1 year.
This winter was different, however. The fact that Koo Seung-min and Kim Won-joong, two key players in the bullpen, will qualify as free agents after this season was also had to be considered.
In the end, the FA trio recruited last winter should play the role of FA. In short, Lotte can live only when it plays a role worthy of its ransom.
All of the FA trio’s report cards from last year were left to be desired. All he had was a batting average of .261 with 10 homers and 55 RBIs in 121 games. Yoo’s strength is that he is a “golden bullion” style player, which is not related to his injury, and he had to take a hiatus of nearly three weeks last year due to his side injury. Still, it is encouraging that his batting average, which stood at .223 until August, has risen to .261. Yoo has made a promise for the 2024 season as he has hit hard with a batting average of .379 with four homers and 24 RBIs since September.
It is also true that the joining of Yoo Kang-nam provided a stimulus to young catchers including Chung In-geun and Son Sung-bin. Whenever he had the opportunity to become a starting pitcher, Chung displayed his concentration and remarkable batting skills by posting a batting average of .333, one homer and 13 RBIs. Sohn returned to Lotte after being discharged from the military and gained experience by posting a batting average of .263, one homer and 15 RBIs. Once Lotte’s biggest Achilles heel, it is no longer the case. Lotte manager Kim Tae-hyung even said, “I think Lotte’s catchers are the best in the current league.”
Yoo Kang-nam should take the center stage again this year. If Lotte can continue its batting performance at the end of last year this year, Lotte’s home turf will become more powerful.
Noh Jin-hyuk, who played a key role in Lotte’s new center line along with Yoo Kang-nam, was also full of disappointment last year. He had a batting average of .257 with four homers, 51 RBIs and seven stolen bases in 113 games last year. When he was playing for the NC Dinosaurs in 2022, he had a batting average of .280 with 15 homers, 75 RBIs and two stolen bases in 115 games, but his destructive power seemed to have deteriorated significantly last year. In fact, when he hit a finishing hit at the match against Sajik KIA on June 3 last year, his batting average for this season was .287, which was close to the .30 level, but has declined exponentially since then. 랭크카지노
Injuries were another problem. Due to his side injury, Noh disappeared after the game against Hanwha in Sajik on June 14 and could not report his return until the game against Hanwha in Daejeon on July 5. Even after returning from injury, he has hardly been able to boost his batting performance. Noh’s batting average in July was only .109. Still, since he has shown signs of rebound with .319 one homer and 19 RBIs since September, he can be expected to show stellar performance this season.