Retirement delayed, Choo Choo Train burns its ‘last flame’


Last year’s Korean Series champions, the SSG Landers, have undergone many changes since the end of the season. Last year’s Korean Series champion, Kim Won-hyung, stepped down and was replaced by Lee Sung-yong, and the team also parted ways with a number of coaches, including Kim Min-jae (head coach of the Lotte Giants), Jung Kyung-bae (head coach of the Hanwha Eagles), and Cho Woong-chun (pitching coach of the Doosan Bears). Coincidentally, all of them, including Kim Won-hyung, played or coached for SSG’s predecessor, the SK Wyverns.
SSG players were also the talk of the secondary draft on November 22. Veteran infielder Choi Joo-hwan, who hit 20 home runs this season, was selected by the Kiwoom Heroes with the first overall pick, while Choi Hang, the younger brother of Landers slugger Choi Jung, was selected by Lotte in the third round. The biggest surprise for baseball fans was that Kim Kang-min, the “one-club man” who played 23 years in Incheon from 2001 to this year, was selected by Hanwha in the fourth round.

With Kim’s departure, Choo “Choo Choo Train” Shin-soo became the lone oldest player on the roster. Torn between retiring from active duty after this season and extending his career, Choo Shin-soo signed a contract with SSG on Thursday for the lowest annual salary and decided to play for one more year, donating all of it to the organization. With his decision to extend his playing career and take over as SSG’s captain next season, will Shin-soo Choo be able to end his professional career in style like many KBO legends before him?

Rare retirement seasons for legendary hitters

In the past, there were quite a few players who ended their careers against their will, either by being released by their teams or being forced to retire. However, since the free agency system was established, it has become increasingly common for veteran players who have been performing consistently to sign multi-year contracts of two to three years when they become eligible for free agency and naturally hang up their jerseys at the end of the contract period. However, the results of the retirement season vary from player to player.

Lee Seung-yeop, who now leads the Doosan Bears, became a free agent after the 2015 season and signed a two-year contract totaling 3.6 billion won with the Samsung Lions. Lee had two spectacular seasons before his retirement, hitting 296 hits, 51 home runs, and 205 RBIs in 2016 and 2017. Lee ended his career with a staggering 626 home runs and 1,937 RBIs in Korea and Japan, but it was clear that he was too good to retire. 랭크카지노

When it comes to retiring on a high note, some players have surpassed him. That would be Lotte’s perennial “Big Boy” Lee Dae-ho, who had one of the greatest retirement seasons in KBO history. Lee signed a two-year, 2.6 billion won free agent contract with Lotte ahead of the 2021 season to try to win a championship one last time. Despite failing to win a championship, Lee finished his career as one of the best hitters in the league, batting .331 with 179 hits, 23 home runs, and 101 RBIs in the 2022 season before retiring.

Of course, not all veteran players who signed long-term contracts and decided when to retire are happy.

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