South Korean pitcher Kim Kwang-hyun, 31, has achieved his long-held dream of playing in the Major League Baseball (MLB), signing with the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the oldest and most successful clubs in the MLB. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Tuesday that the Cardinals signed Korean lefty Kim Kwang-hyun to a two-year contract worth $8 million (approx. 9.34 billion won). The Athletic wrote on the same day that Kim could add another three million dollars to the contract with incentives, which means he could earn up to $11 million in two years.
“I’m so excited and nervous at the same time. The 2020 season is very important for me. The best case scenario would be becoming a starting pitcher but my primary goal is to be the player the team needs. I’ll do my best to play my part,” said Kim in all smiles during the press conference.
The St. Louis Cardinals, which have won 19 National League pennants and 11 World Series (WS) championships, is called “zombies of autumn” given the team’s unremitting efforts in postseason. The Cardinals advanced to the postseason in four years last year after winning the NL Central but lost in a four-game sweep to the Washington Nationals, last year’s WS Champion. The Cardinals have a strong weakness of having all right-handed pitchers in the rotation. The South Korean experienced lefty is expected to be a pillar of strength to the Cardinals along with Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, and Dakota Hudson.
Kim took grueling rehabilitation training after the surgery, which left him a 20-centimeter long scar on his left elbow. Returning to the mound in 2018, Kim helped his team become the Korean Series (KS) Champion with his fastballs at 154 km/h. In 2019, Kim made a perfect comeback, going 17-6 with a 2.51 ERA and tying his personal record of wins in nine years. MLB scouts flocked to stadiums to watch Kim play.
Kim’s team SK Wyverns made a hard decision to let him go. Kim’s contract has not expired yet and the Wyverns needed Kim to win the KS. But the Wyverns supported Kim’s dream to play in the MLB, helping him to achieve his dream in his early 30s.
Kim Kwang-hyun did not forget to thank the team. Kim held a sign that read, “THANK YOU, SK” at the end of the press conference and said, “If it weren’t for SK’s support, I wouldn’t be here today. I really want to thank SK.”
Bae-Jung Kim firstname.lastname@example.org