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Will LG Twins Choi Won-tae's salary be increased, reduced, or frozen?
The LG Twins, who won the regular league-Korean Series combined championship for the first time in 29 years, continues to have a party atmosphere even during the awards season. Interview requests from players are continuing, and LG is still the center of conversation even in the winter due to Go Woo-seok's major league posting and contract issues with free agents Lim Chan-gyu, Ham Deok-joo, and Kim Min-seong.
Since the players performed equally well, there are many factors for salary increases. However, one of the LG players whose salary we are most curious about next season is probably Choi Won-tae.
Choi Won-tae, who was active as the domestic ace of Kiwoom Heroes, came to LG during the season. In order to bring in Choi Won-tae, LG handed over promising batsman Lee Joo-hyung, who served in the military, Kim Dong-gyu, a promising second-year high school graduate pitcher, and a first-round pick in the 2024 rookie draft. At the time, LG's domestic starting lineup was underperforming, so LG, which was aiming for the championship, had to bring in an ace-level domestic starting player even if it meant risking 'future bleeding', and Kiwoom, whose performance was already low, received a promising player and gave up Choi Won-tae.
Until the trade, Choi Won-tae's records were 17 appearances, 102⅓ innings, 6 wins, 4 losses, and an average ERA of 3.25. Looking at the record table on July 29th, when the trade was made, Choi Won-tae was tied for 14th in most wins, 10th in ERA, and 11th in innings. Among domestic pitchers, he ranked 5th in most wins, 4th in earned run average, and 4th in innings pitched.
However, his performance after coming to LG was not good. The day after the trade, he started the game against Doosan and became the winning pitcher with 2 hits and no runs in 6 innings, indicating that the trade was successful, but he did not pitch very well after that. On September 24th, he gave up 6 hits and 1 run in 7 innings against Hanwha in Jamsil, which was his second quality start. On September 30th, he became the losing pitcher against Doosan in Jamsil, allowing 5 hits and 2 runs in 4⅔ innings, which was his last appearance in the regular season. Afterwards, LG confirmed its victory in the regular season, and Choi Won-tae quickly began preparations for the Korean Series.
As foreign pitcher Adam Plutko had difficulty pitching in the Korean Series due to a pelvic bone bruise, Choi Won-tae was selected as the second starter in the Korean Series. He prepared for over a month and pitched in the second game, but was unable to overcome the burden of losing the first game. Due to concerns about ball control, he had only one out and gave up two hits and two walks before being replaced. The team was on the verge of defeat after allowing 4 runs in the first half, but the pitchers who took the mound after Choi Won-tae kept the team scoreless until the end, and the hitters chased hard, and Park Dong-won's come-from-behind two-run gun resulted in a 5-4 victory.
Choi Won-tae took the mound in the 9th inning in Game 4, but still showed shaky pitching, allowing 1 run with 2 walks. LG rose to the top of the Korean Series with 4 consecutive wins after 1 loss, but Choi Won-tae's sluggish performance was an unpleasant factor.
Now it's salary negotiation season. Choi Won-tae's performance this season was 9 wins, 7 losses, and an average ERA of 4.30 in 26 appearances. After he came to LG, he appeared in 9 games and recorded 3 wins, 3 losses, and an ERA of 6.70. Choi Won-tae's annual salary this year is 350 million won.
His overall grades aren't very good, but they aren't that bad either. His performance at LG clearly falls short of expectations. However, salary is not calculated based on grades alone. Choi Won-tae has completed 7 years of FA registration as of this season. If he finishes next year healthy, he will become a free agent. Depending on his salary, his free agent rating may vary. If Choi Won-tae performs well next season and becomes a key player in winning the championship for two consecutive years, of course his price could skyrocket. If LG is unable to catch him, the scope of tying up protected players to compensated players will vary depending on Choi Won-tae's free agent rating. In Grade A, only 20 players can be grouped, and in Grade B, 25 players can be designated as protected players.
Friday, December 15, 2023