Ham Deok-ju sticks with LG Twins as latest add to familiar lineup

LG Twins' Ham Deok-ju pitches during Game 5 of the Korean series at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in southern Seoul on Nov. 11. [YONHAP]

Free agent pitcher Ham Deok-ju is sticking with the LG Twins on a four-year deal worth up to 3.8 billion won ($2.9 million) as the team inches closer to a final 2024 lineup with plenty of familiar names. The 29-year-old left-hander will receive a guaranteed salary of 1.4 billion won ($1.08 million) with a 600 million won signing bonus and can earn up to 1.8 billion won in incentives, the team announced Sunday in a press release. Ham’s Christmas Eve re-signing comes weeks after the MLB requested a surprise status check on him in November — along with Kiwoom-Heroes-turned-SF-Giants’ Lee Jung-hoo and Twins’ Go Woo-suk — raising questions on whether he might join the list of KBO alum in the big leagues.
But now-homeward bound Ham puts the Seoul club a step closer to locking in its final roster for the 2024 season after they brought home the Korean Series trophy and KBO pennant in 2023.Ham is the third player from the Twins who opted for free agency to re-sign with the team on a big multi-year deal, in a sign that the club could be looking to maintain their momentum as they forge ahead with two titles to defend.Ham, who joined the Twins on a trade from Jamsil rivals Doosan Bears ahead of the 2021 season, pitched 57 games in 2023 with four wins and zero losses with a 1.62 ERA, bouncing back from two previous seasons freckled with absences due to various injuries.Fellow Twins pitcher Im Chan-kyu and infielders Kim Min-sung and Oh Ji-hwan also opted to enter this year’s FA market, all in category “B” — players who by salary fall between fourth and 10th at their club and 31st and 60th in the league.
Last week, Oh, the team’s captain and Korean Series MVP, crossed t’s and dotted i’s on a huge six-year contract extension worth up to 12.4 billion won ($9.5 million) first signed in January. Oh signed the contract as a free agent on Dec. 19, according to the Twins in a press release. “I am grateful to the club for offering me to sign a contract on good terms. Above all, I am happy to remain a player for the LG Twins until the end,” Oh said in the press release posted online Thursday.Im also re-signed with the Twins last week, on a four-year deal worth up to 5 billion won ($3.8 million). The 31-year-old right-hander will receive a total salary of 2 million won, a 600 million won signing bonus, and he can earn up to 2.4 billion won in incentives. “I didn’t think about other clubs,” Im said in a press release announcing his new contract.Both Oh and Im have been with the Twins for more than a decade — seeing the team through multiple seasons at the bottom up the table and getting cut at the playoffs.
Oh, 33, has under his belt 15 years with the Twins after making his KBO debut with the team in 2009. He has a career .265 batting average and has scored a total 154 home runs and 807 RBIs for the team throughout the past decade-and-a-half.Im joined the Twins in 2011 but had his best season in 2023, recording a 3.42 ERA with 14 wins and three losses over 30 games — the third-most wins among all pitchers and highest among domestic players. The Twins are also showing little movement in their foreign player roster, re-signing ace Casey Kelly for his sixth season despite earlier rumors that 2023 would be his last, and outside hitter Austin Dean for his second. Along with the KT Wiz, the Twins were one of the first teams to reach their three-foreign player maximum, adding American pitcher Dietrich Enns, who comes to Korea from two years in 토토 Japan and replaces outgoing pitcher Adam Plutko.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *