Lotte general manager Seong Min-kyu’s ‘Process 1’ demanded patience from Lotte fans. Seong Min-kyu’s ‘Process 2’, which reinforced vulnerable positions with active investments this winter, will start from the 2023 season. How far can Lotte go?
Seong Min-gyu took office as the Lotte general manager in September 2019. He revealed his aspirations to make Lotte a strong team through process and remodeling. It finished at the bottom in 2019, and from 2020, when Seong led the team in earnest, until this year, he received a report card of ‘7th-8th-8th’.
During the three-year tenure of general manager Seong Min-gyu, the only thing that can be said is that the 2nd team system has been improved and young player development is making little progress. However, it is not that Lotte is doing exceptionally well unlike other clubs in nurturing the second team. Most of the clubs are selecting potential players from the draft, paying a lot of attention to ‘nurturing’ them, investing in them, and creating a systematic system. Compared to Lotte a few years ago, it is at the level of managing the second group well.
Developing the 2nd group is important, but in the end, pros have to produce results in the 1st group. The ultimate goal of any team is to advance to the postseason and win the Korean Series.
Lotte actively moved in the FA market this winter. In the three off-seasons after taking office, General Manager Seong was the only free agent to be recruited in the winter of 2019 An Chi-hong (2+2 years, 5.6 billion won). This year was different. With funding from the parent group, they made a hot bet.
Ahead of the 2018 season, after Kang Min-ho left for Samsung, the position of catcher, which had been a chronic problem for five years, was resolved. They recruited Yoo Kang-nam (30) for a total of 8 billion won over four years. Yoo Kang-nam is young at the age of 31 next year. He recently wore a catcher’s mask of 950 or more innings for five consecutive years. He’s fit and has good framing. His batting has been on the decline lately, but he’s capable of double-digit home runs.
In addition, Roh Jin-hyeok (33), who could become an infield commander, was signed for a total of 5 billion won over 4 years. Noh Jin-hyeok recorded a batting average of .28, 15 homers, 75 RBIs, and an OPS of .808 in 115 games this year. In 2020, he surpassed 20 home runs for the first time in his debut, and showed a slugging power of double-digit home runs 4 times in the last 5 years. His solid defense as a shortstop and third baseman is also recognized.
Prior to the free agency recruitment, he signed a non-FA multi-year contract with local ace Park Se-woong (27) 메이저사이트 for a total of 9 billion won over 5 years. Park Se-woong, who recorded 10 wins and an average ERA in the 3-point range for two consecutive years, is at a high level in the league as a starter in his 20s. He invested 22 billion won in long-term contracts with three players.
The three foreign players, a decisive factor in team performance, were also confirmed early on. Dan Strayley (34), Charlie Barnes (27), Jack Rex (29), and the three foreign musketeers who played this season have renewed their contracts. The total is 3.55 million dollars (about 4.6 billion won).
Lotte re-recruited Strayley in the second half of this season and signed a contract worth 1 million dollars next year. Strayley, who recorded 25 wins over two years in the 2020-2021 season, performed well with 4 wins, 2 losses and an ERA of 2.31 in 11 games this year.
Barnes went 12-12 with a 3.62 ERA in 31 appearances. Compared to the 9-6 ERA of 2.74 in the first half, the 3-6 ERA of 5.40 in the second half was disappointing, but next year I will pay attention to physical fitness.
He renewed the contract with foreign hitter Rex for $1.3 million and foreign pitcher Barnes for $1.25 million. Rex joined as a substitute this year and recorded a batting average of .333, 8 homers, 34 RBIs, and an OPS of .905 in 56 games. He played as a center hitter with long hitting ability and decent defense.
In addition to free agents and foreign players, the depth was thickened by recruiting released players. Pitchers Cha Woo-chan (35), Shin Jeong-rak (35), Kim Sang-soo (34), Yoon Myeong-jun (33), outfielders Ahn Kwon-soo (29), Lee Jeong-woo (21), and catcher Lee Jung-hoon (28) recruited seven players from other teams.
The last time Lotte won the Korean Series was in 1992. The Korean series has not even advanced since 1999. It has been 30 years since they won the Korean Series, and they have failed to advance to the Korean Series for 23 years.
Lotte’s last postseason was 3rd place in 2017 and advanced to the semi-playoffs. Franchise star Lee Dae-ho left a fireworks display this year, but finished in 8th place. Losing Son A-seop last year, and after Lee Dae-ho retired at the end of this season, he poured money over 20 billion won. And where will Lotte stand next year’s leaderboard?