Reporter Lee Myeong-dong = Noh Jin-hyeok (33), Yoo Gang-nam (30), and Han Hyun-hee (29), who joined the Lotte Giants with a large free agent (FA) contract, pledged to show their expectations. The amount invested in the recruitment of these three people reached 17 billion won.
Noh Jin-hyeok, Yoo Gang-nam, and Han Hyeon-hee greeted each other for the first time at Lotte through an initiation ceremony held at the Busan Sapphire Room at the Lotte Hotel in Busanjin-gu, Busan on the morning of the 19th.
The ceremony was attended by general manager Seong Min-gyu, vice-captain Park Hyun-woo, head coach Park Heung-sik, new captain Ahn Chi-hong, and pitcher representative Koo Seung-min. Seong Min-kyu, the general manager, put on No. 52, No. 27, and No. 63 uniforms for No Jin-hyeok, Yu Kang-nam, and Han Hyeon-hee, respectively.
Noh Jin-hyeok said, “I thought a lot about whether I would be able to become a free agent while watching seniors who came to the team as free agents during my professional life.” I want to,” he said.
Kang-Nam Yoo said, “I feel a sense of pressure because I was treated well and recognized my value.”
Han Hyun-hee said, “I am happy just to be able to play baseball in Busan again.” He also said, “There will be things I want as much as Daewoo,” and promised, “There will be young pitchers and there will be pitchers to learn, but I will try to be of great help to the pitching staff by talking a lot.”
General manager Sung said, “It was not easy to recruit three players,” and expressed his aspirations, saying, “I will do my best in every game to satisfy the fans.”
It was catcher Yoo Gang-nam who first opened Lotte’s FA wallet in the 2023 season. On November 21 last year, Lotte wrote a contract with Yoo Kang-nam for a total of 8 billion won over 4 years (down payment 4 billion won, annual salary 3.4 billion won, option 600 million won). Two days later, Lotte announced that Noh Jin-hyeok had joined the team with a total of 5 billion won (down payment of 2.2 billion won, annual salary of 2.4 billion won, and option of 400 million won) over four years.
On the 17th, Han Hyun-hee joined late, and Lotte filled the limit of recruiting free agents outside the season. He returned to his hometown of Busan with a total of 4 billion won for 3 + 1 years (down payment of 300 million won, annual salary of 1.5 billion won, option of 2.2 billion won).
Noh Jin-hyuk joined the NC Dinos in 2012 as a special 20th pick and recorded a career batting average of 0.266 in the 2013-2022 season. During this time, he racked up 331 RBI while hitting 71 home runs. He also showed stable defense and throwing ability while working as a shortstop and third baseman.
Kangnam Yoo joined the LG Twins in the 7th round in 2011. During the 2011–2022 season, he had a batting average of 0.267, 103 home runs, and 447 RBIs.
Han Hyun-hee joined Nexen Heroes (predecessor of Kiwoom Heroes) in the first round of 2012 and went back and forth with the starting pitcher. As a sidearm pitcher, he was rated as a fastball thrower.
He recorded 65 wins, 43 losses, 105 holds, and 8 saves while playing 416 games and 971⅓ innings during the 2012-2022 season. He had a 4.26 earned run average over the span. In the 2013-2014 season, he accumulated 27 and 31 holds, respectively, and won the hold king for two consecutive years.
The three players unanimously said that they were impressed by the enthusiastic support of Lotte fans. Noh Jin-hyuk expressed his anticipation, saying, “Lotte fans are remembered as fans who cheer with orange bags and newspapers and tremendous cheers. I get excited thinking about hearing those cheers.”
He added, “Looking at the other side, I was envious of Lotte fans because they were able to sing together. He also handed over to Cho Ji-hoon, the cheering leader, “(I) am very picky about cheering songs, so I have great expectations that the (cheering) leader will make a magnificent and good cheering song.”
Han Hyun-hee said, “I grew up watching Lotte uniforms from a young age.” “When I tried on Lotte uniforms, I thought this would suit me.”
Lotte spent 17 billion won on FA alone ahead of the 2023 season. If you include the non-FA contract signed with Park Se-woong in October of last year, it means that all four players have signed contracts worth 26 billion won.
Lotte also reinforced its veteran power by recruiting Kim Sang-soo (35), Shin Jeong-rak (35), Yoon Myeong-jun (33), and Cha Woo-chan (35), who were released from their team.
On October 26 last year, Lotte signed a non-FA contract with Park Se-woong, the ‘ace wearing glasses’, for a total of 9 billion won (7 billion won in annual salary and 2 billion won in options) for 5 years. It was the club’s first non-FA contract.
Next, Q&A with Noh Jin-hyeok, Yoo Kang-nam, and Han Hyun-hee.
-What do you think the club wants from you?
“Until now, I have always thought of playing hard and faithfully. I will try to keep my OPS at 0.8. There are many young players among the team’s fielders. I think it is my role to help lead the team like captain An Chi-hong. (Noh Jin-hyuk)
“When I started catcher, I thought I wanted to be the catcher that the pitcher wanted. I decided to become the catcher that the pitcher went to and started catching. It was good. I haven’t been able to catch all the balls from the Lotte pitching team. I will try to receive the ball steadily when the camp starts
. I have the same thoughts. There will be something (club) wants as much as (good) treatment. I have experience in the starting, middle, and bullpen. There will be young pitchers (in the team), and there will be pitchers to learn from. While talking a lot, I will try to be of great help to the pitching staff.” (Han Hyeon-hee)
– Was there any player who was uncomfortable with Lotte in the past?
“Dan Strayley was having a hard time (being on the same team). It’s so fortunate. Han Hyun-hee didn’t hit the ball well, but it’s good that he came (with the same team).
“As a team, Lotte was in an atmosphere where the team could not stop when it got into a mood. I didn’t hit it well. I threw a lot of 안전놀이터
forkballs . If you aim for a fastball, a forkball comes, and if you aim for a forkball, a fastball comes, so it was difficult.” Lee hyung is a hitter who hits my ball well, so it’s nice to come (on the same team). Jun-woo Jeon was really picky. He was tricky because he hit well wherever he threw the ball. As a player on the other team, I didn’t like Dan Straley very much. Pitcher However, it was awkward because he gave strength to the batter with his fast tempo and fighting spirit.” (Han Hyun-hee)
– How about wearing a Lotte uniform?
“I’m not sure because I couldn’t see what I was wearing. Looking at (Yoo) Gangnam from the back, the uniform looked solid. It looked neater and cleaner than the home uniforms of other teams.
” I tried it on. I saw how well it suited me. I didn’t think it was bad.” (Yoo Kang-nam)
“I grew up watching Lotte uniforms from a young age. When I tried on the Lotte uniforms, I thought these suits me.” (Han Hyun-hee) -It’s off
-season. how are you preparing
“I’m doing back strengthening exercises and other exercises. I sharpened my teeth and prepared to have a good season. I’m in very good shape. I’m ready for camp.
“I definitely prepared better this winter than any other year. I started exercising early. I built my body steadily. I’m looking forward to this season.
” I want to show a good throwing performance this year. I exercised a lot around my diet and developed my throwing muscles. I am preparing for the camp. It is going really well.” (Han Hyun
– hee) met Were there any players you were wary of?
“Yesterday in Masan, I worked out with Chang-mo Koo and Young-kyu Kim. Both are left-handed pitchers, so they said they would hit me if the ball went missing. (Old) Chang-mo and (Kim) Young-gyu are good at the ball. I want to hit well. I think it’s a fight between me and Park Min-woo against the NC.” (Noh Jin-hyuk)
“I talked to the pitcher of the previous team almost everything. (Kim) Yun-sik told me that he only threw fastballs. I went to practice after analyzing my strength. (Jung) Wooyoung seems to be hard to just hit the ball. (Laughs) Still, a game is a game. I have to do my best in it. I will create good results unconditionally. (Yoo Kang-nam)
“After signing the contract, (Lee) Jung-hoo called me right away and asked me not to match. If I and Kiwoom play, I never want to lose. I will win unconditionally.” (Han Hyun-hee)