Negotiations for a long-term contract between catcher Kim Tae-gun (33) and the KIA Tigers, which seemed to be concluded quickly, are progressing slowly.
KIA and Kim Tae-goon have been together since the 5th of last month. KIA, whose main catcher position was vacant, risked bleeding by giving away Ryu Ji-hyeok 메이저놀이터, who can defend all positions in the infield, to the Samsung Lions. Kim Tae-goon, who had been staying as a backup after being pushed by ‘national team’ catcher Kang Min-ho, was able to regain his starting position again.
There was a prospect that his long-term contract was also counted down. Kim Tae-goon will be eligible for free agency (FA) after this season. KIA also knew this and made a trade.
Kia has no choice but to be wary of repeating the same mistake. Last year, Kiwoom Heroes paid a player (Kim Tae-jin) newcomer nomination rights (2023 round 2) cash (1 billion won) to recruit reserve free agent catcher Park Dong-won and even tried to sign a long-term contract, but after the Stove League was held, he gave it to the LG Twins.
Former general manager Jang Jeong-seok’s request for back money during negotiations with Park Dong-kwon was the decisive factor in missing the player, but it is true that the administrative power of the club was on the cutting board because personnel management is also the competence of the organization.
Ten days after the trade was concluded, Kim Tae-gun’s agent, Park Hee-jin, Brion Company team leader, and KIA operation team manager Kwon Yoon-min met for a long-term contract. At that time, only Kim Tae-gun’s side presented the condition.
Up to this point, the ‘speed battle’ flowed. However, KIA’s response was delayed, and the negotiating table was not set for a while. KIA should also keep in mind contracts with existing players. The team’s main players, Kim Sun-bin and Choi Hyung-woo, also get free agency qualifications after the 2023 season. KIA has no choice but to be cautious as long-term contract with Kim Tae-gun is actually breaking the first tape of Stove League.
Negotiations, which had been lulled, resumed on the 15th. At this meeting, which was also attended by Shim Jae-hak, KIA also presented conditions. However, the negotiations did not work out. This means that the price difference is huge.
From the beginning, Agent Kim Tae-gun set a fairly high percentage of the total amount as an option and presented the terms of the contract. Usually, players want as much guaranteed money as possible.
Kim Tae-goon obtained his first free agency qualification after the 2019 season, but his invincibility was prolonged as he struggled with the transfer. Eventually, after his value declined significantly, he signed a contract with the original club, NC Dinos, for a total of 1.3 billion won (period of 4 years).
The Lotte Giants, who wanted Kim Tae-gun, turned to a prospect trade. NC had Yang Eui-ji, the number one catcher in the league. The market and team situation turned against Kim Tae-goon, and in the end, he had to receive a lower ransom compared to the regular free agent catcher contract.
For that reason, it seems that the agent considered the total amount the most important for this long-term contract with KIA. It means that the priority is for players to be properly recognized for their value. Rather, the reason why the player side increased the option ratio can be interpreted as considering the situation of KIA, which has many internal reserve free agents.
Currently, 7 out of 10 clubs’ main catchers have signed contracts worth more than 4 billion won. From Kim Tae-gun’s point of view, the best scenario is to remain at the KIA, where he can definitely play as a starter.
However, it is not that the club is holding the initiative. When Kim Tae-goon is an internal player, it is best to sign a long-term contract. You never know what will happen in Stove League. It also means that it is difficult to predict the catcher’s movement.
In particular, negotiations become complicated when a player that a club points out for a free agency contract or trade acquisition becomes entangled with other players belonging to the same agency. Right now, Brion Company has not only Kim Tae-goon, but also another reserve free agent catcher, Kim Min-shik. Variables may increase as many players usually sign contracts with new agencies after the regular season ends.
Coach Kim Jong-guk praised the effect of Kim Tae-gun’s addition, saying, “It seems that pitchers who work well with experienced catchers have become psychologically comfortable.” Kim Tae-gun is also showing a high contribution to victory in his at bat, recording a batting average of 0.429 (6 hits in 14 at-bats) in the 5 games he played last week. The tax effect is clear.
Kim Tae-gun also hoped that a long-term contract would come true quickly. He can’t help but be concerned about being late in the negotiation process. Both clubs and agents do not want players to be affected by contract issues. Currently, Shim Jae-hak, head of the KIA, is abroad for a field trip to Jeon Hoon-ji during the spring camp. When he returns home, the third meeting is expected to take place.