Attention is focusing on which teams free agent players Ahn Chi-hong of the Kia Tigers and Oh Ji-hwan of the LG Twins, who were both born in 1990 and used to be core players during the golden era of high school baseball, will choose to move.
Ahn and Oh have positioned themselves as flagship centerline outfielders (2nd baseman, shortstop) of the KBO League. They are young at age 29, and have never suffered significant injury. Since they will be able to maintain their capability and performance at the current levels for at least several years to come, rival teams have keen interest in recruiting them.
Ahn, the starting second baseman for Kia, boasts of strong batting performance, as he ranks fourth in career batting average with 0.300, and third (0.441) in slugging power among the second basemen. He maintained his batting average at the 0.3 level (0.315) again this year, demonstrating himself as an offense-capable second baseman.
Oh Ji-hwan, the undisputed starting shortstop for LG, suffered a setback in batting average by posting 0.252 this year, down from last year’s 0.278, but watchers say that he is still among the best players in defense capability in the league. Oh ranked second in the number of innings (1,101 innings) played among shortstops in the league, and thereby posted the third highest fielding average (0.981) this year. He also boasts of a robust slugging power among his other strengths, although he only managed to hit nine homers this year.
Since both players have symbolic significance as franchise star players, both Kia and LG will seek to keep them. The players, who are highly sought after by teams with weak infield defense, however, may end up choosing to move to other teams.