SSG officially announced on the 24th that it had completed negotiations with all 49 people who were subject to renewal of the annual salary in 2023. The distribution of the results of the combined championship was completed, with the salaries of key players such as Choi Ji-hoon, Park Seong-han, and Seo Jin-yong rising significantly, who had good results last year.
In fact, all 47 people had already completed negotiations by mid-December of last year. However, negotiations between veteran players Kim Kang-min (41) and Noh Kyung-eun (39) were not over, so the announcement was delayed. The two players had several negotiations with the club, but they needed more time to think, so the negotiating table came over the year to 2023. As a result, the club’s presentation was unsettled, and it seemed that both players agreed to the club’s presentation.
It would have been a somewhat disappointing contract for the players, but Kim Kang-min’s 2023 annual salary contract has a significant meaning not only for the club but also throughout the history of the KBO League. This is because there is no player who has played for a club for a longer period of time than Kim Kang-min.
Kim Kang-min, who graduated from Gyeongbuk High School and was nominated by SK in the 2nd round (18th overall) in 2001, debuted on the first team stage in 2002 and jumped to the team’s core outfielder around the time of building the SK dynasty. He received military service benefits at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, so his career could not be cut off.
Such Kim Kang-min is in his 23rd season at SSG this year. No player in the history of the KBO League has played 23 years for one club. Among the players who have stepped into the KBO league, the majority of players retire due to their will without completing 10 years, and it is difficult to find 20 years of service even for a star representing the team. In some cases, this condition cannot be met due to military issues or overseas advancement.
The previous record was 22 years, held by Kim Kang-min and Kwon Oh-joon, who made a name for himself as a midfielder representing Samsung. Kwon Oh-joon joined Samsung in 1999 and debuted in the first team in 2003, and played 22 seasons as a Samsung man until 2020. To say that players with more than 20 seasons, there are only two players and Hanwha’s legendary players, Song Jin-woo, Jang Jong-hoon, and Park Jeong-jin. As an active player, Choi Jung’s 19th season at SSG this year is the second-highest record behind Kim Kang-min. There is still a difference.
It is not simply a courtesy to the legend. His contract continues to be extended because he has a good track record and is sufficiently skilled to play in the first team. Now, the starting position is being passed on to juniors, but Kim Kang-min is still the card that can be played the fastest against lefties. He also has the best defense in the league. 안전놀이터
Last year, he only played 84 games due to an injury, but he recorded a batting average of 0.303 and showed off his rust-free bat and defense. He also led the team to a combined victory in the Korean Series with heroic performances.
Players such as Cho Dong-hwa and Park Jeong-kwon, who played in the same era, are already active on the SSG coaching staff. Kim Kang-min is also likely to follow a similar path when he retires someday. SSG is also keeping an eye on his potential as a leader, and of course has the idea of continuing with Kim Kang-min. With the companionship of Kim Kang-min and SSG, who have walked sometimes brilliantly and sometimes silently, ahead of the 23rd season, it is also a point to watch how long this companionship will last.