The free agency market, which is the KBO league’s stove league’s biggest concern, was led by catchers. Eui-ji Yang, Se-hyeok Park, Dong-won Park, and Gang-nam Yoo obtained free agent qualifications, and all of them left their original teams and started new nests. The biggest fish Yang Eui-ji signed a contract with the Doosan Bears for a total of 15.2 billion won over 6 years, a total of 34.3 billion won for four free agent catchers. It proves how highly the 10 KBO league teams value catchers.
Among the catchers who will obtain free agent status after the end of this season is Kim Tae-gun of the Samsung Lions. After the end of the 2019 season, Kim Tae-gun obtained FA qualification for the first time and stayed with the original team NC Dinos for a total of 1.3 billion won over 4 years. It is true that it is a very small amount compared to the ‘frenzy’ of the recent FA market where players are treated generously.
At that time, NC had Yang Eui-ji, the master of the league’s best air defense, and it is interpreted as the reason that the free agent market did not pay much attention to Kim Tae-gun. However, after the end of the season, if Kim Tae-goon obtains the second free agency qualification, the atmosphere is expected to be quite different from the first free agency.
※ Samsung Kim Tae-goon’s major records in the last 5 seasons
Kim Tae-gun was traded from NC to Samsung in December after the end of the 2021 season. Instead of bringing in sidearm pitcher Shim Chang-min and catcher Kim Eung-min, NC gave up Kim Tae-gun. For NC, it was a trade that focused on Shim Chang-min to use as a winning team in the bullpen.
However, Shim Chang-min pitched in only 11 games and was 1-2, with an ERA of 14.21 and an OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 0.951, and was unable to break free from extreme sluggishness. Kim Eung-min announced his retirement after the season ended after only 34 appearances. The profit and loss calculation of the trade should be done from a long-term perspective, but NC could not deny that it was a ‘failed trade’. 스포츠토토
On the other hand, Kim Tae-goon, wearing Samsung’s blue uniform, recorded a batting average of 0.298, 2 homers, 25 RBIs, and an OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 0.738, setting career highs in batting average and OPS. Since he entered the professional league after being nominated by the LG Twins in 2008, he has been classified as a ‘defensive catcher’, but his hitting potential exploded immediately after transferring to Samsung. His WAR (based on Kaby Reports) of 1.41, his contribution to wins versus replacements, was his highest since his professional debut.
Kim Tae-goon’s ability to stop stealing has not changed. He allowed 14 of 26 attempted steals by his opponents and stopped 12, giving him a high base stealing percentage of 46.2%. Among 16 catchers in the league who wore a mask over 300 innings, the stealing rate was the highest by far. Samsung, which had Kim Tae-gun, Kang Min-ho, and Kim Jae-sung, who had established itself as a ‘successful trade case’, was called the ‘catcher kingdom’.
It remains to be seen whether Kim Tae-gun’s batting ability will continue this year. Perhaps because of his physical burden in the second half of last year, he showed a downward trend with a batting average of 0.217, 1 home run, 10 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.600. There are also reservations about whether Kim Tae-goon’s good performance last year was temporary in that his performance in the second half of the previous year could carry over into the following year.
There is a prospect that Samsung, which had no outside FA reinforcement despite the departure of free agents Kim Sang-soo and Oh Seon-jin last winter, will aim to strengthen its power through the trade of the catcher. There may be a change in Kim Tae-gun’s future ahead of free agency. It is noteworthy whether Kim Tae-gun will reach the ‘FA jackpot’ after achieving his first 300 batting average this season.