Kim Kang-min, 41, could have retired as a one-club man after 23 years, but he chose to extend his career. Now, he is preparing for his 24th season as ‘Kim Kang-min of Hanwha’.
Kim Kang-min visited the Hanwha club office at the Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon on Thursday to announce his intention to extend his playing career. After being selected by Hanwha with the 22nd overall pick in the fourth round of the KBO Secondary Draft held on April 22, Kim, who was on the verge of retiring and extending his playing career, decided to continue his career with Hanwha.
Hanwha announced today that outfielder Kim Kang-min, who became a member of Hanwha through the second draft, has decided to continue his career with the club. On the 24th, Kim visited the Hanwha team office and told the team that he wanted to extend his career. In response, Hanwha said, “We plan to include Kim Kang-min in the list of pending players to be submitted to the KBO on the 25th.
Kim wrote a short message to SSG fans through the Hanwha organization. “I was very happy playing baseball as a one-club man for 23 years. I’m sorry that I feel like I’m leaving in debt. I will keep the unconditional love and precious memories that you have sent me and try to make a comeback with a new team. Thank you so much for everything.” He said goodbye.
Two days after the surprise appointment, Hanwha’s authenticity shines through
It’s been a stormy two days for Kim. When the results of the second round of the draft were announced at 2:30 p.m. on July 22, Kim was the name that caught the most attention. Hanwha’s selection of Kim, the KBO’s longest-serving player (23 years), caught everyone by surprise. SSG, which is in the midst of a generational change, did not place Kim on the 35-man protected list, nor did it indicate any retirement plans or discussions in the player’s remarks section.
Kim is a veteran player who will turn 42 next year, but SSG’s complacency has made things worse. SSG may not have seen value in him anymore, but with a weak outfield, Hanwha needed a “player” in Kim Kang-min. After the Korean Series, Hanwha looked at their second-round draft picks and the consensus, both in the front office and on the field, was to select Kim in the fourth or fifth round.
With a weak outfield, Hanwha couldn’t afford to pass on a proven veteran like Kim. It wasn’t a blind move. 카지노사이트 We calculated the possibility that Kim would retire, but at a fourth-round pick, it wasn’t a huge loss. More importantly, we’d heard from multiple sources that Kim wanted to extend his career. There was an expectation that if we convinced him enough, he would join the team.
In the immediate aftermath of the pick,
Kim Kang-min was devastated, and Hanwha head coach Son Hyuk, who drafted him, did not contact him that day. Only Head Coach Jung Kyung-bae, who was with SSG until recently, made a cautious phone call. He was given a full day to think about it and clear his mind. Publicly, he said, “I will respect the player’s will no matter what decision he makes,” and did not force Kim Kang-min to extend his contract.
A day later, on the 23rd, Son Hyuk spoke to Kim Kang-min on the phone and communicated with him over the phone. On the 24th, he met with Kim in person at the Daejeon office, and once again explained his reasons for nominating him, reiterating that he was “essential to our team.” Kim Kang-min, who was deeply hurt by SSG’s complacent handling of his job and was asked to retire, responded to Hanwha’s sincerity after much deliberation. He decided to play his 24th season with Hanwha.
Kim Kang-min’s card fills Hanwha’s weaknesses and gives them wings to challenge for the top five
With Kim’s arrival, Hanwha’s outfield has gained wings. For years, Hanwha has struggled to develop young players in the outfield. Lee Jin-young, who hit 10 home runs this year, has developed into a starter, but it’s unclear if he’ll be able to carry the momentum into next year. They also added outfielder Jonathan Perez as a foreign hitter, but the lid will have to be lifted on the new foreign player. Furthermore, Peraza is a corner outfielder, and Hanwha doesn’t have a solid center fielder. With so many unknowns in the outfield, the team added a player with the most experience in Kim Kang-min.
Kim could be the solution if the existing players fail to develop or go down with injuries.
“We needed Kim Kang-min because we don’t have enough experienced outfielders,” said Hanwha coach Choi Won-ho. “Lee Jin-young, Choi In-ho, and Kim Tae-yeon have done well this year, but they are not constants. If they perform poorly or get injured, we don’t have a lot of options. That’s where Kim’s experience comes in. The younger players can also learn a lot from him. We hope he can help our younger players grow and give them the final spark they need.”
Hanwha Head Coach Jung Kyung-bae, who has watched Kim up close as an SSG coach for the past two years, knows him well. “From what I’ve seen of him at SSG, he’s in great shape, and I think he’ll be a great addition to our team. His defense range has narrowed a bit from his prime, but his throwing ability and batting judgment are still among the best in the league. His batting has also become more seasoned as he has gained more experience. Off the field, he is an inspiration to the players. He will be able to lead our younger players well.”
Lee Jin-young, who is expected to be Hanwha’s starting center fielder next season, also wanted Kim Kang-min to join the team. He said, “Kim Kang-min is very experienced. If he comes to our team, he will share his know-how with us. I think we can learn a lot and get help from him.” Now that he’s a Hanwha player, Lee Jin-young has the opportunity to learn a lot from Kim Kang-min.
Hanwha is aiming for a top-five finish next season.
They bolstered their roster in free agency with the signing of outfielder Ahn Chi-hong, then added pitchers Lee Sang-kyu and Bae Min-seo in the second round, and Kim Kang-min immediately filled in at each position. As the oldest player in the league and a dugout leader, Kim’s presence is huge. From the SK Dynasty to SSG, Kim’s five Korean Series championships will help instill a new winning DNA in a team that has been steeped in a losing mentality.