Ko Woo-suk (San Diego Padres) has returned as a Major Leaguer. After completing his medical test in San Diego, the U.S., he completed his contract and returned to Korea via Terminal 2 of Incheon International Airport early Tuesday. The contract was finalized only after completing the 30-day posting period, and he only stayed for three days in the U.S. After arriving in Korea early in the morning, Ko expressed his excitement to take on new challenges.
In an interview with the Dong-A Ilbo, Ko said, “I feel dizzy because everything was done in a hurry, but now that I arrived here, I feel real. I was worried that I didn’t have time left until I signed the contract. The contract was signed just seven minutes away. I thought I would be happy, but I felt relieved.” As for how he felt after receiving the offer from San Diego, he said, “The agency gave me a good explanation on the terms.”
“I did a lot of things without any break time. I can’t believe I’m here either,” he said. “I talked a lot about baseball at the San Diego club. I heard that you would help me adjust to the situation.” When he visited Petco Park to sign a contract, he shared an episode in the U.S., saying that he met Yu Darvish, talked with him, and took pictures.
Throughout the 15-minute interview, Ko lowered himself, saying, “I am not a Major Leaguer yet.” He said he would build up his body with humility until he joins the Major League roster and definitely gives strength.
The LG Twins, Ko Woo-suk’s former team, which predicted “conditional permission” before posting, approved the transfer in a big way for Ko Woo-suk’s dream, despite the contract conditions that did not meet the standard. Ko Woo-seok thanked the club’s decision and confessed that he hesitated to go to the U.S. because there were LG and LG fans.
▶ “I’m not a major leaguer yet.” Ko Woo-suk’s Q&A
- Have you been to San Diego for the first time? What was it like.
“It was my first time in San Diego. I was looking forward to it, but the weather was so nice and I felt it was beautiful while looking at the visible scenery.”
- What did father-in-law (Lee Jong-beom) and brother-in-law (Lee Jung-hoo) say.
“Before I went, I was contacted to congratulate me on my flight. My parents were happy, too. So I felt good.”
- Can you feel that you became a major leaguer.
“Actually, I haven’t made my first appearance yet, so there’s nothing that really touches me about the Major League. I’m in a position where I have to compete, so if I overcome it and enter the Major League roster, I think I’ll realize it then.”
- He could make his debut in Seoul.
“That’s amazing. But I’m still in a position to compete, so I’m a bit impatient to say that I’m a major leaguer. I’ll make sure I get into shape so that I can play my first game in Seoul.”
- Have you ever dreamed of becoming a major leaguer.
“I have a scene I’ve dreamed of since I was young, but I don’t think I’m a major leaguer yet, so I think I have to show my ability to be a major leaguer to say it then.”
- It’s also thanks to LG’s permission to post.
“That’s why I felt sad. I think it was because of the existence of my old team. I’m so thankful. I’m so thankful for everything right now.”
- I’m going to play on the same team as Kim Ha-sung.
“I contacted him after receiving his contact information first. He congratulated me. I feel at ease because I have a senior who I met in the national team and played in the same league while playing baseball abroad.”
- Why he challenged Major League Baseball with posting, not FA.
“Actually, the time I prepared for the posting was before last year’s season. But my performance was not good. I wondered if I could have applied if the team hadn’t won. I thought it wouldn’t be either. The team all did well, so I won, and I only dipped my feet in it. After such a happy moment, I had to apply for a posting. The biggest reason was to apply because I was curious about how I would be evaluated. I waited until the end, but there was no news, so the media talked about it, but I didn’t expect it because there was no active offer. I was worried when the offer came at the last minute. In fact, a lot of people asked me why I did that when it came to the Major League through posting a year before the FA. I left LG, but I applied for posting because I could come back to LG.”
“What I left behind for the club, the group, LG, is very small. Thank you for believing and supporting me even though it’s my personal dream.”
- How did you feel while you were waiting.
“He worked harder at the agency than I did. As a player, I prepared even when I failed. I could have just played baseball at LG, but the agency kept working hard to get a good contract. Thank you.”
- What should we do to become a major leaguer who will acknowledge himself.
“I think I will enter the first game around mid-February. Until then, I think the first thing is to build up my body. You have to think that you will win by playing practice games and competing with batters. I think I can say that I am a major leaguer only when I join the roster.”
- What’s the future schedule like.
“I think I’ll have to rest at home for now and adjust my schedule by exercising as I’ve been doing from next week.”
- Some fans welcomed the initial WS Go by interpreting it as a World Series advancement.
“What I saw was that the name was a little… just seeing things like that. Rather than feeling bad, I thought first that the name was properly known. So I’m glad to hear that. I’m grateful to my parents for naming it because it can be interpreted in a good way or it can be interpreted in a pleasant way.”
- To LG fans.
“In a way, the reason why it was hard to decide to go to the U.S. was the enthusiastic passion of the team called LG and its fans. It was a short time, but I am grateful for the love and support you gave me. I don’t leave forever. I think you have to improve and come back. Honestly, if you don’t do well, you can come back in a short time. I want to improve even in that short time. Thank you so much for supporting me even though it’s my personal dream.”
- Did you get a lot of calls from LG players.
“I worked out in Jamsil even on the day I got on the plane. I got a lot of calls to see if I had guessed or not. I said I’d say hello to you in Jamsil when I got back.”
- Did you have a conversation with the LG club.
“I said thank you for contacting me right after the contract. I said congratulations, thank you for allowing me, and I said I was able to sign a good contract thanks to you.”
- The team picked Yoo Young-chan as the successor.
“Wouldn’t you do well? I don’t doubt you’ll do well.”
- If you have any goals you want to achieve in the Major League.
“If I become a major leaguer, I’ll do it properly”
▶2 days agreement →3 days acceptance →4 days contract, urgent 2 nights 3 days
Ko Woo-seok signed a 2+1 year contract with San Diego on the 4th to formalize his Major League challenge. He receives an annual salary of $4 million for two years of guaranteed contract. This year’s salary is $1.75 million and next year’s salary is $2.25 million. The third year has a mutual option. If the option is triggered by an agreement between the two sides, the annual salary will rise to $3 million. If you add three years’ salary and the number of games played, you can get up to $9.4 million.
Former LG Twins allowed Ko Woo-suk to post, conditioning that the contents of the contract exceed a certain size. In fact, the contract with San Diego fell short of those terms, but LG accepted the posting on the pretext of his first win in 29 years and Ko’s dream. As San Diego’s proposal came two days before the deadline for posting (7 a.m. on the 4th in Korean time), the entire process from LG’s permission, medical testing to San Diego contract took place in just three days. It was a very urgent time.
He was forced to stay for four days from his departure on Saturday to his arrival on Sunday. Ko spent four days and one night traveling with Lee Yerang, CEO of Ricoh Sports, a Korean agency, in the order of Incheon-Tokyo-San Diego (departure), and San Diego-Los Angeles-Incheon (return).
Ko confirmed San Diego’s offer on Tuesday afternoon. He informed LG first, and Ko left for the U.S. for a medical test on Tuesday afternoon. In the meantime, it was concluded that LG would allow the transfer after reporting the information to high-ranking officials of the team. San Diego officially announced the contract with Ko on Tuesday morning. “He is the pitcher responsible for the final game of Game 5 of the Kt Wiz and the Korean Series,” he wrote in a press release announcing his two-year contract with Ko, introducing his career in the KBO League and international competitions.
Cha Myung-seok, general manager of LG, said, “Congratulations. Ko Woo-suk is one of the best closing pitchers in the KBO League. He is competitive enough in the Major League, and I think he will adapt well. I look forward to playing as a Major League player who represents Korea with good performances. I root for Ko’s new challenge.”
▶ Candidate Seung-jo of ‘Costable Bee’ expected to be the “Three Masters of San Diego’
With an annual average of 2 million U.S. dollars, it is hard to call it a “jackpot,” but San Diego is likely to assign an important task to Ko. Some predict that he will become a pitcher who will block the eighth and ninth innings along with Robert Suarez and Yuki Matsui.
MLB Network reporter John Morosi reported that Ko Woo-suk has reached an agreement with San Diego, saying, “Ko Woo-suk has a brother-in-law relationship with Lee Jung-hoo. In other words, he has a family relationship with the grandson of the wind. San Diego considers Ko Woo-suk to be the three players in the must-win group along with Suarez and Matsui. Depending on the matchup, all three players can be pitchers who are responsible for the end,” adding, “Ko has a lot of experience in the bullpen.” He gained experience in the high-level league called the KBO League. He can be a key member of the San Diego bullpen and a must-win group for coach Mike Shildt who is entering his first season after taking office.”
Statistics website FanGraph.com released this season’s expected performance based on Ko’s career and age. Some estimate that Ko will have three wins, three losses, 11 holds, three saves, and an ERA of 3.83 while pitching 62 innings in 62 games. He has 72 strikeouts, with 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings and 4.16 walks per nine innings. This may not be the number of the best bullpen pitcher, but it can be said that the performance deserves consistent opportunities.
Josh Hader (61 games) and Luis Garcia (61 games) took the mound in more than 60 games for the San Diego bullpen last year. Nick Martinez pitched in 63 games including nine starts. Tom Cosgrove played in 54 games and Steven Wilson played in 52 games. If Ko takes the mound in 60 games, it means that he was evaluated as a reliable player in the San Diego bullpen.
▶ LG prepares for Ko Woo-suk… Director Yeom Kyung-yeop’s choice is
LG has already started preparing for its next game. Rookie Yoo Young-chan, who debuted in the first division last year and recorded six wins, three losses, 12 holds, and one save with an ERA of 3.44 in 67 games, will succeed Ko. Ahead of the last season, Yoo started the season in the first division after catching the eye of LG manager Yeom Kyung-yeop. After gaining experience in the pursuit group, he emerged as a must-win group, and in September, when Ko was away for participation in the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, he also posted his first save since his debut. Even before Yoo Young-chan took charge of the must-win group, coach Yeom Kyung-yeop showed strong trust, saying, “When you grow up, you can become a setup man of the national team 헤라카지노주소.”
Now, the official announcement has been made. “Yoo Young-chan has a ball speed that is close to a power figure. I think he can go up 1-2 kilometers more in speed,” manager Yeom Kyung-yeop said after the LG Twins’ New Year’s greeting ceremony on Sunday. “His pitching speed improved last year, and I thought that if he throws a better fork ball and slider through this camp, he will be able to save 30 saves.”
“I also got a good score in my mental capacity, which is necessary for a closing pitcher. Another reason was that I had a great experience in the Korean Series, which is the most important stage. I did not have any saves in the Korean Series, but I judged that I could leave it to him to finish this season,” he said.
However, it is by no means a hasty alternative. Manager Yeom Kyung-yeop started devising closing alternatives after Ko Woo-suk’s posting to the Major League, and already expressed his intention to consider Yoo Young-chan as the next closing pitcher in year-end interviews. However, expectations remained in Yeom’s mind at this time that Ko Woo-suk would remain at LG. However, negotiations between Ko Woo-suk and San Diego gained momentum during a short period of time. This opened the door to opportunity for Yoo.
Yoo Young-chan said, “I saw the article first that you will let me finish. I was excited to have a good opportunity,” adding, “I never thought I would finish it.” I will not miss the opportunity that came to me like last year, and I hope that the team will become a supportive pitcher in a direction that can win even a little more.”
“The older members and others around me say ‘finish and finish’, but I haven’t settled in yet, I just got a chance. I’m trying to do my best,” he said humbly.