It’s certainly a relief to have a safe place to sleep. But there’s a bigger picture for the KIA Tigers.
The Tigers have agreed to a three-year, $2.5 billion contract ($2 billion in salary, $500,000 in options) with catcher Kim Tae-gun (34). When the Tigers acquired Kim in July in exchange for infielder Ryu Ji-hyeok from the Samsung Lions, it was widely expected that KIA would pursue a multi-year deal. Kim Tae-gun’s camp also expressed their desire for a multi-year deal from the beginning of his time with KIA. With a top-five fight in the second half of the season, Kia’s first priority was to solve the Kim Tae-gun contract homework ahead of the opening of the Stobrig.
After making his professional debut with LG in 2008, Kim joined then-newcomer NC in 2013 and quickly became the starting catcher. In 2015, he made his only appearance in the pennant race. However, his role diminished significantly when Yang Yang-ji (now Doosan) joined the team during his military service, and he was traded to Samsung in 2022. This year, in a KIA uniform, he reemerged as a starting catcher.
Through 17 games, Kim is batting 2-for-5 (78-for-307) with one home run, 40 RBIs and a .598 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in 113 games. He doesn’t look like a very productive hitter based on his career batting average (2-for-4) and OPS (.621). However, he has shown good skills at the plate, including framing, blocking, throwing, and leading off, so he could be the answer to some of the defensive concerns KIA has had in recent seasons.
However, the effects of the multi-year contract are not limited to stability at home.
KIA has quite a few potential catching options. Han Jun-soo (24), who currently serves as Kim Tae-gun’s backup, and Shin Beom-soo (25), who was used in the mid-to-late first half of the season, have shown talent in the hitting department, which has been the biggest weakness of the KIA catching staff. In addition, Kwon Hyuk-kyung (21), who is serving in the military, and Joo Hyo-sang (26), who gained some experience as a backup while growing up, have the potential to be good catchers if they are refined. However, they are still very inexperienced, and given the nature of the catcher position, which takes time to develop, it’s unrealistic to expect them to step up right away. They need more time to develop.
It’s hard to imagine Kim Tae-gun, who is in his mid-30s, being able to handle the physical demands of the catcher position throughout the pennant race. A rotation of younger Kia catchers is inevitable. The backups could benefit from the developmental synergy of playing alongside Kim, gaining not only playing time but also the opportunity to learn the veteran’s skills. This is what Kia ultimately hopes to achieve with the signing of Kim Tae-gun.메이저사이트
By signing Kim Tae-gun, KIA has three years to develop the catcher. However, a player’s development is not just a matter of appearing in the lineup. There are also many operational issues that need to be solved, such as supplementing his skills and coordinating his playing time. Kim will be in his late 30s when his contract expires, and KIA will need to find a replacement from within. The evaluation of Kim’s contract will depend on whether or not the team is able to solve the challenge of developing catchers over the next three years.