Once in the KBO league, foreign coaches were a guarantee of success. Coach Jerry Royster, who became the league’s first foreign command tower, led the Lotte Giants, who had a dark period with ‘8888577 (2001-2007 rankings)’, to fall baseball for three consecutive years from 2008 to 2010, and coach Trey Hillman was the last of the two-year contract. In 2018, the year, SK Wyverns (predecessor of SSG Landers) won the championship.
As good examples piled up, more teams entrusted the baton to a foreign commander. The KIA Tigers appointed manager Matt Williams in October 2019, the Hanwha Eagles appointed manager Carlos Subero in November 2020, and Lotte also fired manager Heo Moon-hoe in May 2021, 메이저사이트 and then entrusted the first team to manager Larry Sutton Futures. As a result, in the 2021 season, three foreign coaches were on the scene of domestic baseball.
However, there were no foreign commanders who achieved such convincing success as coaches Royster and Hillman. Coach Williams, who failed to advance to the postseason for two consecutive years, left KIA without completing the three-year contract period. Hanwha suffered the lowest humiliation in 2021 and 2022 under the Subero coaching system, and Sutton’s Lotte also finished the season in 8th place during the same period.
This season is very important for Subero and Sutton, both of whose contracts expire at the end of the year. It’s brinkmanship season.
Coach Subero, who was rumored to be fired during the season last year, was guaranteed an opportunity to spend his third season at Hanwha after new general manager Son Hyuk took office, but his position has narrowed. In the past two seasons, coach Sutton actively employed young players and showed potential, but as a result, his ability to manage crises fell and he was placed at the bottom of the table.
Therefore, the two foreign coaches must achieve remarkable results in the new season to be guaranteed a ‘rosy future’.
The encouraging part is that Lotte and Hanwha had the busiest Stove League since foreign coaches took over.
Lotte, whose flagship Lee Dae-ho retired, started to strengthen its power by unpacking the money bag. In the free agent (FA) market, they strengthened their vulnerable position by recruiting catcher Yoo Kang-nam (4 years, 8 billion won), infielder Roh Jin-hyuk (4 years, 5 billion won), and pitcher Han Hyun-hee (3+1 years, 4 billion won). Lotte contracted with three external free agents and invested 18.27 billion won, including compensation, while accepting the bleeding of three compensation players (Kim Yoo-young, Ahn Joong-yeol, and Lee Kang-jun).
In addition, he succeeded in renewing contracts with proven foreign players Dan Strayley, Charlie Barnes, and Jack Rex. The total contract size of the foreign trio reached 3.55 million dollars.
In addition, Park Se-woong, who postponed his military service by one year, signed a non-FA multi-year contract under the condition of 5 years and 9 billion won, and brought in players released from other teams such as Cha Woo-chan, Kim Sang-soo, Shin Jeong-rak, Yoon Myung-jun, Lee Jung-hoon, and Ahn Kwon-soo to thicken the player base.
Hanwha also moved busily in the stove league to avoid the bottom place for four consecutive years. Infielders Chae Eun-seong (6 years, 9 billion won), Oh Seon-jin (1+1 years, 400 million won), and pitcher Lee Tae-yang (4 years, 2.5 billion won) were captured. It has been seven years since Hanwha recruited an outside free agent.
In addition, KIA gave away prospect Woo-hyuk Byun, brought in pitchers Seung-hyuk Han and Ji-su Jang, and even embraced sidearm pitcher Won-seok Ryu, who threw up to 153 km.
In addition, while renewing the contract with pitcher Felix Pena for $850,000, they even raised the odds of recruiting pitcher Birch Smith and batter Brian O’Grady, who have experienced Asian baseball, to lower the probability of failure for foreign players.
While the maximum contract amount for new foreign players in the KBO league is $1 million, Smith signed a contract for $1 million and O’Grady for $900,000. The size of the contract with these three is 2.75 million dollars, and Hanwha has invested the most money in a foreign player in this Stove League since Subero took office.
As the club’s spending grew and its strength grew, the responsibility for Sutton and Subero also became heavy. After the season begins, the pressure on performance is expected to be stronger than in previous years.
The success of coaches Sutton and Subero is also directly related to the era of foreign commanders in the KBO League. Recently, each club does not prefer foreign coaches. In the process of appointing a new manager for some clubs, foreign commanders were completely excluded from the nominations. If Sutton and Subero do not succeed in renewing their contracts, all 10 club command towers may be filled with domestic leaders.