The biggest topic of Kiwoom Heroes recently is whether franchise star Seo Geon-chang will return.

The theme for the offseason of Kiwoom is “waiting” in preparation for the 2024 season. The team is seeking to renew contracts with Ariel Furado (27) and Ronnie Dawson (28), while signing contracts with new foreign pitchers to replace Ian McKinney (29) is in the final stages. Lim Chang-min (38) and Lee Ji-young (37), who have declared themselves as free agents, have respected players’ commitment to take a look around the market.

There is one more contact that awaits you. It is Seo Kun-chang, a franchise star who left the club two years ago. Kiwoom received pitcher Jung Chan-heon (33) from the LG Twins in July 2021 and made a one-on-one trade to give up Seo. Seo returned to his former team in 12 years as an individual player. He joined LG in 2008 as a foster player and made his debut in the first and last game in the year, which was his first and last game as a member of the LG Twins until he moved to the Nexen Heroes (now Kiwoom Heroes) in the winter of 2011.

He had high expectations for a rebound by playing in games before his first year of return, but his performance continued to decline with a batting average of 0.253 in 2021, 0.224 in 2022, and 0.200 in 2023. Eventually, LG had to suffer another setback on April 25 after enjoying the joy of winning the regular season title and the Korean Series title in 29 years. It was Kiwoom, his former team, that approached Seo first with a strong sense of loss. “Our doctor conveyed it, and Seo should decide and tell us about it. I haven’t received an answer yet. He seemed to have a lot to think about on his own,” Kiwoom general manager Ko Hyung-wook said in a telephone interview with Star News on April 5.

Kiwoom, which always lacks players, especially in the dugout, needs a veteran to help baseball both inside and outside. Veterans wanted to recover their broken pride, and Kiwoom, who could play at any time if he proved his skills, was an attractive team. Kiwoom first approached such veterans with a strategy to build at least pride. A typical case is when Lee Yong-gyu (38), who was released by the Hanwha Eagles two years ago, and Lim Chang-min, who came from the Doosan Bears last year. Two years ago, Lee Yong-gyu said, “The leader (former general manager Kim Chi-hyun) gave me an offer himself. I was the first to be contacted,” and the general manager changed after that, but the recruitment trend was the same during Lim Chang-min and Seo Geon-chang.

Kiwoom was also the team that definitely paid off if it produced a result. When Lee Yong-kyu, who joined the team with an annual salary of 100 million won, played with a batting average of 0.296 in 133 games, 88 points and 16 steals, and an on-base percentage of 0.392 slugging percentage of 0.373 OPS in 2021, the annual salary was set at 400 million won, a whopping 300% increase in 2022. Likewise, Lim Chang-min, who received an annual salary of 100 million won this year, has firmly blocked the back door of the Heroes with 2 wins, 2 losses, 26 saves, and an ERA of 2.51 in 51 games, and has received an upgraded offer from Kiwoom.

Seo Geon-chang was a bit special for Kiwoom, too. Although he has been active in LG for the past three seasons, his perception that he is a franchise star who represents the Heroes along with Park Byung-ho (KT Wiz), Kim Ha-sung (San Diego Padres), and Lee Jung-hoo does not disappear. There are still people waiting for Professor Seo (Seo Geon-chang + Professor). At Gocheok Sky Dome, fans can still see Seo wearing uniforms with Seo’s back number 14, and a player whom I recently met welcomed him saying, “Seo Geon-chang, are you really coming? I would love it if you come. I really want to play with him.”

Seo Kun-chang’s impact with the Heroes was impressive and brilliant. In 2012, he won the Rookie of the Year award with a batting average of 0.266 and 39 steals in 127 games, a slugging percentage of 0.342 and a slugging percentage of 0.367, and in 2014, he reached the peak of his talent-release myth. He had a batting average of 0.370 (201 hits in 543 times at bat) with seven homers, 67 RBIs, 135 runs and 48 steals in 128 games, breaking the record of Lee Jong-beom (196 hits) and Lee Seung-yeop (126 points) with a slugging percentage of 0.547, and swept away awards such as three wins in batting, the Golden Glove, and the MVP of the regular season. Of his career hits representing the KBO League, 91 percent (1,236) were written by wearing Heroes’ uniforms.

Opportunities to play in the game are not guaranteed. When returning to the second base, there are Kim Hye-sung, the second baseman of the Korean national team, and Choi Joo-hwan, a 35-year-old veteran who was hired through the second draft. However, there are variables such as Kim Hye-sung’s transfer to shortstop and Choi’s conversion to first base, and for Kiwoom, which lacks the designated batter, Seo Kun-chang is a success even if he only displays his original batting ability. Above all, if he secures the starting lineup in a difficult situation, he will never recover his reputation. However, Kiwoom intends to fully understand and wait for Seo’s concerns. 온라인경마

“I thought it would be a good idea to be with us for Seo Kun-chang himself, his team and his fans. Even if I quit my career, I wanted to help him along the way if he thinks about his next life as a leader,” Koh said, expressing his sincere feelings. “I think it will take some time before the decision is made. I want to wait for him (to know how he feels).”

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