“I signed a contract with FA Oh Seung-hwan,” Samsung said on Wednesday. The deal is worth 2.2 billion won, including 1 billion won in down payment for two years and 1.2 billion won (400 million won + 800 million won) in annual salary. Despite his young age, Oh has been treated warmly by Samsung and has been able to continue his career.
After signing the contract, Lee Jong-yeol, the team’s general manager, said, “We decided to conclude the formation of the pitching staff for this season. We agonized over the best path for our team amid an atmosphere of understanding each other throughout the negotiation process. As such, it took some time. I would like to express my gratitude to Oh for understanding and following the team’s moves to form the best team.”
Oh Seung-hwan also said, “I expect to create a synergy effect that shows a strong bullpen in the 2024 season with players who joined the FA and the second draft this offseason,” expressing his feelings of re-signing with Samsung.
A tug-of-war continued for a long time, but the two finally reached a compromise. Samsung also needed Oh, and Oh had no intention of leaving Samsung. However, there were differences over annual salary and contract term. Lee Jong-yeol, the general manager of Samsung, met with Oh in person to persuade him, and eventually signed a contract that both the team and players would be satisfied with.
Oh is a closing pitcher who represents the Republic of Korea. He is a living legend in Korean baseball. Such a modifier is a nodding figure just by looking at his record. Oh recorded 400 saves for the first time in the KBO League, and is the only player who has achieved 500 saves in Korea, the U.S., and Japan. With his trademark “straightforwardness,” Oh has left impressive mark throughout his career.
He cooks batters in a different way than he did in his heyday. In the past, players had dominant pitching power, but now they face batters with ball control, ball mixing and breaking balls. Oh Seung-hwan couldn’t go against the times. “It would not have been easy for a veteran pitcher like Oh to change his style. Nevertheless, Oh did it,” Kang said, displaying his thumb up on Oh’s change.
Among Samsung’s bullpen pitchers, Oh is by far the best. He pitched 62 ⅔s in 58 games and recorded 4 wins, 5 losses, 2 holds, 30 saves, and an ERA of 3.45. He is the No. 1 save player in his team and ranked third overall in the KBO League. He has displayed incredible performance, which is beyond belief.
He is sweating profusely off-season to play well in 2024. As an FA, he always goes to work at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu, the home of Samsung. Asked about his secret to maintaining his skills, Oh said, “I have not changed in the preparation process. If the secret is to do as I always do, it is the secret,” but he is practicing as before.
With this, Samsung is preparing for the 2024 season with two top-class closing pitchers. In this Stove League, Samsung has invested heavily in strengthening its bullpen. First, it signed a four-year contract with Kim Jae-yoon, the biggest player in the FA bullpen. Kim Jae-yoon is a closing pitcher with 44 wins, 33 losses, 169 saves, and an ERA of 3.58 in 481 games.
Recruitment by outsiders was not the end. Samsung held veteran pitcher Lim Chang-min for a total of 800 million won for two years. Lim, who served as a setup man and closing pitcher, recorded a career-high 27 wins, 29 losses, 122 saves with an ERA of 3.73 holds in 487 games. Samsung has strengthened its backdoor policy by recruiting only two professional closing pitchers.
Last season, Samsung’s bullpen ERA was 5.16, ranking last among the 10 teams in the KBO League. However, it is expected to change in 2024. If veteran pitchers such as Oh Seung-hwan, Kim Jae-yoon and Lim Chang-min do their part, it will also ease anxiety over the back door.