“I feel comforted for struggling, thank you to the club”

The long wait is over.

Samsung signed a contract with pitcher Kim Dae-woo, who was an internal free agent (FA), on Aug. 8. The two-year contract is for a total of 400 million won ($100 million down payment, $200 million annual salary, and $100 million in incentives). “Dae-woo is a right-handed underhanded pitcher that we lacked, and we expect him to add diversity to our existing pitching staff as well as provide all-weather performance in the middle and starting spots,” Samsung said.

Kim handled the deal himself, without an agent. “Thankfully, the club looked at me in a good light, and general manager Lee Jong-yeol (Lee Jong-yeol) talked to me in a good way from the first meeting,” he told Xports News on Aug. 8. “If it’s difficult to negotiate directly, it might be difficult, but thanks to the club, I was able to work out the story well.”

A product of Seoul High School and Hongik University, Kim began his professional career with the Nexen Heroes (now Kiwoom Heroes) in 2011. In 2016, he moved to Samsung via trade. Since then, he has played in long relief and as a substitute. He was often called upon to fill in when a starter had a problem before a game, or when a starter was suddenly pulled during a game. He was nicknamed “Yardlock” for his efforts to fill the mound void.

After the 2022 season, Kim was eligible for free agency but did not exercise his option, as he only pitched in four games for the first team that year due to poor health. Last season, he went 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 44 games and 64 innings pitched. In his 11 seasons in the KBO, he has a 27-26 record with 23 saves and a 5.75 ERA in 352 games.

He became a free agent again this year. He signed his first free agent contract with Samsung. “As a player, I don’t think it’s natural to be a free agent,” Kim said. After signing, I felt comforted that I had struggled in the pros,” he said. “It was good to have the opportunity to strengthen my will once again, and the sense of responsibility became even greater.”

“I’m not a big A-list player, but I wanted to exercise my rights and the club cared about me. I’m really grateful,” he said. “I’m a middle reliever and a long relief pitcher who has to move back and forth between different spots, so signing a free agent contract is more valuable and important to me.”

He will continue to fill the holes in Samsung’s pitching staff. “I think positively. I think I have a chance to play in the first team, and I will take more responsibility for my position,” he smiled.

“Due to the nature of my position, I don’t set specific goals for my performance. Instead, I want to be as healthy as possible and play as many games as possible. I’m focusing on the training part to avoid getting sick,” he added.

We’ve got more teammates. In the offseason, Samsung looked to bolster its pitching staff, and it did. “Actually, the existing pitchers worked really hard and tried to do well,” says Kim Dae-woo. I felt very bad that the results weren’t satisfactory,” he says. “There were a lot of good players from the outside. I think the synergy effect will be greater through competition. I’m looking forward to this season.”

Kim Dae-woo, who was born in 1988 and is a Dragon, celebrated the Year of the Blue Dragon this year. He laughed, saying, “Not every Dragon year will work out,” and then added, “But it’s good to have a little hope and expectation. We will move forward this season with vigor.”

Finally, Kim Dae-woo said, “I am truly grateful to have such a good contract with Samsung. I’m happy to have the opportunity to play baseball in Daegu again and in front of Samsung fans. I hope to have many more occasions to smile in the future.”

Samsung welcomed two pitchers to the family in free agency. Last November, the team signed right-handed reliever Kim Jae-yoon (formerly of the KT Wiz) for a total of 5.8 billion won ($2 billion down payment, $2.8 billion annual salary, and $1 billion in incentives) over four years. On May 5, the team signed veteran right-handed pitcher Lim Chang-min (formerly of Kiwoom) for a two-year contract totaling 800 million won (300 million won in down payment, 400 million won in annual salary, and 100 million won in incentives).

Samsung also selected left-handed pitcher Choi Sung-hoon (formerly of the LG Twins) and right-handed sidearm pitcher Yang Hyun (formerly of Kiwoom) in the KBO’s second round draft. It also signed right-hander Lee Min-ho, who was released by the NC Dinos after the end of last season, for an annualized salary of 45 million won.

Samsung has two more internal free agents. They are pitcher Oh Seung-hwan and infielder Kang Kang-ul. Seung-hwan Oh, Samsung’s franchise star and patron saint, agreed to stay early on. However, differences arose in the process of finalizing the details of the contract and they are still trying to reach an agreement. Kang had to close the gap at the beginning of the negotiations due to differences in their reference points. Samsung is resolving the off-season issues one by one.

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