Oh Seung-hwan is C-grade? There is no compensatory player

Oh Seung-hwan is a Grade C?

The KBO’s free agent market has been graded since the 2020-2021 season. Certainly, the free agent market has become more active recently. In particular, the C tier has less stringent compensation rules. It is available to players ranked 11th or lower in the club’s salary ranking, 61st or lower in the overall salary ranking, and 35 years old or younger. Once a free agent is tiered C, he or she is tiered C for the second time, and so on.

A team that takes a Class C player can only pay him 150% of his salary from the previous season without a compensation player. For the 2022-2023 free agency, eight of the nine C-grade players have signed except for Kang Ri-ho (retired). Four remained: Jang Si-hwan (Hanwha Eagles), Oh Tae-gon (SSG Landers), Kim Jin-sung (LG Twins), and Shin Bon-ki (KT Wiz).

However, four players moved on: Won Jong-hyun (Kiwoom Heroes, 4 years, 2.5 billion won), Lee Tae-yang (Hanwha, 4 years, 2.5 billion won), Oh Sun-jin (Hanwha, 2 years, 4 billion won), and Lee Myung-ki (Hanwha, 1 year, 100 million won). In particular, Won Jong-hyun and Lee Tae-yang were able to secure 2.5 billion won contracts as bullpen pitchers.

There’s a good chance we’ll see some surprise moves in free agency, mostly in the C tier. There will be plenty of transfers in the A and B tiers, but there won’t be any mega deals. Therefore, a transfer case in the C class could have a ripple effect.

The C class announced by the KBO on the 15th includes Park Kyung-soo, Kim Min-sik, Choi Jung (SSG), Ko Jong-wook, Shin Jung-rak, Kim Dae-woo, Oh Seung-hwan, Kang Kang-ul, Kim Heon-gon, Jang Min-jae, Lim Chang-min, and Lee Yong-gyu. Choi, however, has a six-year, 10.6 billion won free agent contract with SSG that runs through the 2024 season.

Of the remaining 11 players, five – Park Kyung-soo, Ko Jong-wook, Kim Dae-woo, Kim Hun-gon, and Lim Chang-min – are eligible to stay. This means that they were eligible to apply for free agency a year ago but didn’t. It is possible that some of these players will not apply again in this free agency market.

There are also five new members in Class C: Kim Min-sik, Shin Jeong-rak, Oh Seung-hwan, Kang Kang-ul, and Jang Min-jae. In particular, Oh Seung-hwan is the most prominent, as his career is slowly heading downhill after going through the prenatal battle. Here, too, there may be players who decide not to apply for free agency.

Even if you’re an older C player, you can still make a case for a transfer if you’ve been performing well in the last year or two. Clubs can sign a C-grade free agent for a small fee and a one- or two-year contract and hope for the best. We didn’t have to look far to find Park Byung-ho (KT Wiz) in the free agency market two years ago, signing a three-year, $3 billion contract with C-grade status. Park resurfaced in the 2022 season and had a decent regular season despite a poor postseason showing this year.

The free agency market is a living thing, and you never know who’s going to move and when. In particular, this year’s free agency market may not be as active as expected in the A and B ranges due to the lack of big names. If so, a surprise move by a C-grade free agent could be a game-changer. It’s a jam-packed schedule.


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