Kiwoom announced the results of the team’s annual salary negotiations on Tuesday. Kim Hye-sung (25.65 million won), who set a new record for the highest annual salary in his eighth year, stood out by far. Surprisingly, however, there is a player who posted a higher rate of increase than Kim Hye-sung. He is left-handed outfielder Lee Ju-hyung (23), who earned the benefit in return for the trade of Choi Won-tae (27, LG Twins).
Lee Ju-hyung graduated from Kyungnam High School and wore the LG uniform as the 13th pick in the second round of the second round in 2020. Since then, Schilling has been classified as the highest-rated prospect among fielders. He was a batter with high expectations that he could hit long balls if he had good contact, fast feet, and strong power.
There was a time spent as an infielder before and after military service, but Kiwoom used Lee Ju-hyung as a built-in center fielder as soon as the trade was made. LG also tried to give Lee Ju-hyung a chance by going back and forth between the infield and the outfield, but there was no place because the depth of the outfield was so solid.
Choi Won-tae’s big deal was an opportunity for Lee Ju-hyung as well. Lee consistently played center field at Kiwoom, displaying extraordinary baseball talent. He recorded a batting average of 32 points with six homers, 36 RBIs and three stolen bases by 70 at 215 times at bat in 69 games, and posted an OPS of 0.897 with a 0.339 batting average.
It was praised as the second Lee Jung-hoo, and Kiwoom intends to raise Lee Ju-hyung as a new young flagship hitter along with infielders Kim Hwi-jip and catcher Kim Dong-heon. As he gave him a steady chance, he decided that he had good contact and complied with the outfield defense.
Of course, the prevailing view is that Kiwoom needs to play the full time of 144 games this year to be able to determine the real shilling. However, Kiwoom has high expectations internally. In fact, he often played as a designated hitter at the end of the season due to poor thighs. The term “injury fighting spirit” is outdated and something that should not be done. However, Kiwoom people seem to be nodding to Lee’s determination and grit.
The 100% annual salary increase should be seen as a result of reflecting both the future values and expectations of Lee Ju-hyung. Of course, it is an increase from 33 million won to 66 million won, but it is an encouraging enough change for Lee Ju-hyung to have a lot to show in the future. Now Lee Ju-hyung only has the task of making an average of Kiwoom. Lee Jung-hoo is not a player who will come back so easily.
On the other hand, would Lee have been able to raise his annual salary by 100 percent if he had not come to Kiwoom? What would have happened if LG did not have a chance to win the title in the 2023 season? We don’t know the path that Lee has never taken, but Lee’s moves last summer and this winter are exactly the same.
If Lee Ju-hyung was with LG, he would never have had the full opportunity right away like Kiwoom. LG won the title in 29 years in the 2023 season, but the situation is the same as last year. Now, the team is heading for two consecutive wins. Given its power structure, the team has to run on a win-now basis.