One of Ahn Chi-hong and Jeon Jun-woo Hanwha’s Plan to Recruit Free Agents by Digging into Lotte’s Salary Cap Worked

Hanwha has emerged as a big player in the free agent market again. 

The FA strategy of ‘I must capture one of the two’ worked.

On the 20th, the second day since the free agency market opened

two players released as free agents from Lotte announced news of their contracts one after another. 

At 9:30 a.m., outfielder Jeon Jun-woo (37) signed his first contract with his original team 안전놀이터

Lotte, for a four-year total of 4.7 billion won (4 billion won guaranteed, 700 million won in incentives).

The contract of infielder Ahn Chi-hong (33) was announced after 3 p.m. It was a transfer to Hanwha, not a renewal with Lotte. 

The basic contract is worth up to KRW 7.2 billion for 4+2 years, KRW 4.7 billion with a 4-year guarantee, and KRW 5.5 billion with an option of KRW 800 million. 

Afterwards, the two-year contract was concluded with a mutual option of 1.3 billion won for two years and an option of 400 million won for two years as a mutual option that must be exercised by both the club and the player.

He became the second FA signing and the first transferred player.

Due to the team’s circumstances requiring reinforcement of the batting line, Hanwha absolutely needed to recruit a free agent. 

There were not enough free agent hitters for sale after the season ended next year, so this year could not be overlooked.

Intense internal discussions began even before the free agent market opened, and Lotte’s free agents Ahn Chi-hong and Jeon Jun-woo were selected for recruitment.

At the end of October, a Hanwha official said, “Jeon Jun-woo is a player with proven hitting ability.

He may be older, but his hitting level is capable of being a game changer. 

Ahn Chi-hong also has a good ability to read the game.

Because he is a second baseman, his position overlaps with Jeong Eun-won and Moon Hyun-bin, but neither of them have had their military issues resolved.

We will try to recruit players who can buy us that time, regardless of position,” he said.

The two players’ proven hitting ability was the biggest factor, but there was another reason as well.

It was discovered that Lotte was lacking room in the salary cap, which is the upper limit of the team’s total annual salary.

Last winter, Lotte recruited three outside free agents, including catcher Yoo Kang-nam (4 years, 8 billion won), shortstop Noh Jin-hyuk (4 years, 5 billion won), and pitcher Han Hyun-hee (3+1 years, 4 billion won).

They also signed a five-year, 9 billion won non-FA multi-year contract with ace pitcher Park Se-woong.

The total team salary rose to 7.2102 billion won, a 24.6% increase from last year. 

It ranks 6th out of 10 clubs, which is average, but this figure does not include actual option payments and average annual contract fees for free agent players.

Lotte, which has to prepare not only for the rising prices of Jeon Jun-woo and Ahn Chi-hong but also for two core bullpen players

closer Kim Won-joong and set-up man Koo Seung-min, who will be released as free agents after next season, does not have enough room in the salary cap.

Hanwha realized this and was confident, “We will be able to catch either Ahn Chi-hong or Jeon Jun-woo.

In fact, we contacted them quickly after the free agent market opened. A fairly large offer was made to Jeon Jun-woo, but the player’s intention to remain was very strong.

Lotte also seemed to think that realistically it would be difficult to catch both of them, so it set clear conditions for Jeon Jun-woo.

In the meantime, Hanwha met with Ahn Chi-hong and offered the highest amount at once, making a quick decision.

It was necessary to catch either of them. 

Jeon Jun-woo is also a very good player

but it would be better for Hanwha to have Ahn Chi-hong, who is four years younger than him, in the long term.

Hanwha General Manager Son Hyuk said, “We had no choice but to move quickly because we absolutely needed a free agent contract.

Fortunately, the first meeting on the evening of the 19th led to a contract,” he said.

He was a player we really needed, and we worked hard to meet his needs. “The contract was concluded without a hitch,” he said.

Ahn Chi-hong also said, “I am happy to come to Hanwha.

Thank you for your good suggestion. 

I am also happy that I can prepare for next year comfortably with a fresh mind because I signed a contract quickly,” he said.

I was able to make a decision quickly because Hanwha made a good offer.

During the negotiation process, he emphasized why I was needed by Hanwha. 

What struck me was that he emphasized how my coming to the team would make up for what I had been lacking. 

I also chose Hanwha with the expectation that I would have a lot to share as a veteran since Hanwha is a team with many young players. 

There were parts that fit together well,” he said.

Additionally, Ahn Chi-hong said, “I have received so much undeserved love from Lotte fans over the past four years. 

Thank you very much.

It breaks my heart that I can’t be with you until the end, but I will hold the love of Lotte fans in my heart,” he said.

I thought it was really cool while watching the passionate support from Hanwha fans.

I am happy to become a member of the Hanwha Eagles. 

I am very much looking forward to the new season with fans at the ground. 

I will work hard to become a player who can make up for the shortcomings of our team and a player who lives up to the expectations and love of our fans,” he pledged. 

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