On March 29, LG and Kiwoom made a major trade. Kiwoom sent starter Choi Won-tae to LG in exchange for prospect outfielder Lee Ju-hyung, pitcher Kim Dong-gyu, and the eighth pick in the first round of this year’s rookie draft. LG quickly began to fulfill the goals of the trade, as Choi Won-tae became the winning pitcher the very next day with a dazzling six-inning no-hitter.온라인바카라
Kiwoom, on the other hand, who “bet on the future,” won’t see the results of this trade for several years. So this trade is likely to be talked about for a very long time. The more you look into it, the more food for thought, for the following reasons
- A trade that never happened in Korea
Tanking, the practice of giving up a team’s performance for the current season and the near future in order to improve for the future, is common in North American professional sports. For example, major league teams that are in the bottom half of the standings and have little hope of making it to fall ball will often trade away expensive starters in exchange for prospects. Here’s why.
- If you sell a star player and fall to the bottom of the standings, you won’t get relegated. There’s no promotion system.
- Most MLB teams are independent businesses. They have to make their own money without the help of a parent organization. As a result, they are much more sensitive to money issues than KBO teams, which are closely tied to their parent organizations. For example, it’s bad for the team’s finances and the owner’s pocketbook to keep paying an aging star player a huge salary in a season where he has no hope. So they sell the star’s “certainty of the present” to buy the “uncertainty of the future” of a prospect and reduce spending.
Most teams in the KBO don’t and can’t do this. The main reason for this is that most teams have an identity as an “ambassador of the parent organization”. They don’t want to do anything that will hurt their parent organization’s image. This makes them much more sensitive to public opinion than their American counterparts. For example, you don’t want to create a “truck protest in front of the headquarters” if you can help it. If a lower-ranked team trades a key player and sends a clear message that they’re “throwing in the towel this season,” it’s a surefire way to fuel fan anger.
That’s why the Choi Won-tae trade is a rare event in Korea.
Won-tae Choi’s WAR this season (as of August 3) is 3.29, 14th among all players, 7th among pitchers, and 3rd among homegrown pitchers behind Ahn Woo-jin and Go Young-pyo. In short, he’s one of the best native-born starters in the league. Players like this are never traded, especially during the season.
You have to go back 19 years to find an example of a top-20 WAR starter being traded during the season. On July 11, 2005, Doosan traded left-handed pitching prospect Byung-Doo Jeon to the KIA for Daniel Rios, who was mired in a five-run ERA slump. After a brief stint in the bullpen, Rios rebounded to lead Doosan to the Korean Series and win the 2007 MVP award.
Since then, no team has ever traded a starter to another team during the season. The Heroes traded Lee Taek-geun and Jang Won-sam after the 2009 season due to financial difficulties. Hwang Jae-gyun in 2010 and Park Byung-ho in 2011 were “prospects” who hadn’t yet realized their full potential, so it’s been 19 years since we’ve seen a star player change teams during the season.
- A clear reason for LG to make the trade
As many outlets have already reported, LG’s reasons for making the trade are clear. The starting lineup is too weak for a championship contender.
Outside of ace Plutko, LG hasn’t had a pitcher they could count on for a single postseason game, and their starters have a WAR of just 4.83 this season. That’s 8th out of 10 teams. In the 10-team era that began in 2015, has a team with the eighth-best starting WAR ever won a championship? Absolutely not.
In fall baseball this year, the risk of a weak start is likely to be even greater. As you can see in the table above, the mid-tier teams in fall ball have better starters than LG (and SSG). For example, if LG were to face NC in the postseason, they would have to face the likes of Eric Peddy, who is at an all-time high in power, and Chang-Mo Koo, who could return in the fall. Doosan’s Alcantara-Brandon-Gook Bin, KT’s Ko Young-pyo-Benjamin-Cuevas, KIA’s Pannoni-Yang Hyun-jong-Lee Lee, and Hanwha’s Peña-Moon Dong-joo-Sanchez are also incredibly taxing.
In other words, with the current starting lineup, the chances of being the victim of an upset were higher than in previous years. The team needed to significantly strengthen the starting lineup at all costs to have any hope of winning the title this year.