Jae-Chi Boo-Sim Korean big leaguer…big league stays, big contract in sight

Korean big leaguers are raising the stakes. Kim Ha-seong is looking to repeat as Korean Beast of the Year, while Ryu Hyun-jin has returned from injury to showcase his health. It’s not surprising that they’ll be at the postseason negotiating table.

Kim Ha-seong started at first base against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 31 (KST) and went 2-for-4 with a double, a home run, an RBI, and a run scored. His season batting average is now .278.

While the team cried in a two-game sweep, giving up a come-from-behind two-run homer to Tommy Edmon in the bottom of the ninth, Kim shined. He led off the first inning with a single and scored on a Juan Soto bunt and a Manny Machado double.

In the second inning, he added a valuable run. With runners on first and second and nobody out, he took a fastball from St. Louis starter Miles Mychalus and lined it to left field. It was his second consecutive multi-hit game and pushed his season OPS to .809.

Kim signed a four-year, $28 million contract with San Diego when he arrived in the United States in 2021. That’s about $7 million per year on average. Based on his performance this season, he’s a bargain by any offensive or defensive metric.

Barring a dramatic decline in performance, he could command a hefty price tag in free agency after the 2024 season. His versatility to play multiple positions, age (he’s just approaching 30), and durability (he doesn’t get injured easily) are all reasons to expect a big contract.

The Toronto Blue Jays’ Hyun-jin Ryu, who is returning from injury, is another player who is increasingly looking at Stovrig. Ryu signed a four-year, $80 million contract with Toronto in 2019, and this season is the final year of that deal.

Since his return in August, he has been solid, going 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA, but a month ago, it was a different story. After a strong 2020 season, he underperformed in both 2021 and last year. He also underwent elbow surgery at a young age, leading to pessimism that he wouldn’t be able to play in the big leagues next year.

After five games, those doubts have been turned on their head. In a major league where fastballs average more than 150 kilometers per hour, he embodied the “aesthetic of slowness” and made a comeback. His lack of reliance on fastballs and pitches gives him relative freedom from an aging curveball.안전놀이터

If he finishes the season on a high note, he could be in demand in free agency. This comes at a time when the market for big pitchers has dwindled due to the elbow injury to Shohei Ohtani, the “$500 million man”. A healthy Ryu could be a tempting option for a team in need of starting pitching.

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