LG’s second-team prospect…life changed by trade
Lee Ju-hyung (23-Keum Heroes), a former second-team prospect with the LG Twins, received a whopping 100% salary increase after being traded. This is the highest salary increase for a Kiwoom player, surpassing Kim Hye-sung’s 54.8%.
On the 22nd, Kiwoom Heroes announced, “We have completed salary contracts with all 44 players (excluding rookies, developmental, military pending, FA, non-FA multi-year contracts, and foreign players) for the 2024 season.”
The player who received the highest increase among pitchers and fielders was Lee Ju-hyung, who joined the team during the season and established himself as the main outfielder. Lee signed a contract for the 2024 season for 66 million won, a whopping 100 percent increase from the previous 33 million won. “Lee Joo-hyung joined the team in the middle of the season and showed promise,” said Kiwoom, explaining the reasoning behind the 2x increase.
Born in 2001, Lee was selected with the 13th overall pick in the second round of the 2020 KBO Draft by LG out of Gyeongnam High School. He spent most of his career in Icheon, unable to break through LG’s thick outfield, and although he made an emotional first-team debut on April 7, 2021, against KT, he batted just 1-for-2 in 14 games before enlisting for active duty in the Army in August of that year to fulfill his military obligations.
After failing to make an impact in the first team, Lee moved from LG to Kiwoom in a trade with Choi Won-tae on July 29 last year. This proved to be a turning point in Lee’s career. After batting just 1-for-9 with two RBIs in 32 games with LG, he finally spread his wings, batting 3-for-6 with six home runs, 36 RBIs and an OPS of .897 in 69 games with Kiwoom.
In fact, Lee had already shown signs of success in the Futures League. After hitting .356 with four home runs and 22 RBIs in 26 games in his rookie year, he followed that up with a .353 average with four home runs and 23 RBIs in 40 games the following year. The trade was a turning point for him, and he finally fulfilled his potential in his new home in Kiwoom. The 100 percent salary increase was a no-brainer. Lee is considered to be the next big thing after Lee Jung-hoo, who left for the major leagues in 2024.
Meanwhile, Kiwoom’s biggest raise and highest salary honors went to “Golden Glover” Kim Hye-seong. Kim signed a contract worth 650 million won, a 54.8 percent increase from the previous 230 million won, surpassing the previous record of 550 million won held by Kia’s Na Sung-bum, an eight-year veteran.
Kiwoom said, “Kim Hye-sung led the team’s batting lineup last season with 556 hits, 186 runs, seven home runs, 104 runs scored, 57 RBIs and a 3.3 percent slugging percentage in 137 games. She was the centerpiece of the infield and won the Golden Glove for the third consecutive year,” said the source behind the 650 million won figure.
Kim plans to knock on the door of the major leagues through the posting system after the 2024 season.
In addition, Kim Hui-jip, who hit the team’s most home runs (eight) last season, earned his first billion-dollar salary, up 48.6 percent from the previous year to 110 million won.
Ha Young-min and Lee Myung-jong, who contributed to the pitching staff in various capacities, received 15 million won in raises, putting their stamp on 80 million won and 60 million won respectively. Jang Jae-young, who made his debut and won his first start last season, signed for 40 million won per year.
Of the 44 players who signed contracts, there are six billion-dollar salaries, including one pitcher and five outfielders.