While SSG Landers left franchise star Kim Kang-min in doubt, attention is also being paid to the future of Choo Shin-soo, who was born in 1982, next season.
Choo Shin-soo has been extending his active career by signing a one-year contract with SSG every year since 2021, when he came to the KBO League from the Major League. He was also 39 years old when he decided to go to the KBO League. Although he still shows off his skills that are not enough to take on one of the pillars of his power, as he entered the twilight of his career, whether to extend his active duty was the biggest concern that filled his head every year.굿모닝토토
The same was true this season. Choo Shin-soo, who finished the 2023 season with a semi-playoff, said, “No decision has been made yet (regarding his next move). There’s something that needs to be worked out. It is not something that can be decided alone. You have to discuss it with your family, and you have to see the owner. We also need time to listen to (the club’s) plans,” he said, adding that it was not easy to say whether he would be able to enjoy the ground next season.
Meanwhile, a series of cold waves hit SSG. Former manager Kim Won-hyung, who used to trust Choo Shin-soo, was suddenly replaced. In addition, unlike himself, who was classified as a third-year member and automatically protected, his friend Kim Kang-min (Hanwha Eagles), who always relied on him after deciding to go to Korea, did not make the list of 35 second draft protection players. In addition, several colleagues, including Choi Joo-hwan, Lee Jae-won, and Lim Joon-seop, also changed their uniforms or were released. Moreover, there has been constant noise for a while regarding the new head coach, who himself was also rumored to be a candidate. Eventually, SSG returned former general manager Kim Sung-yong to the head of the R&D center by holding him responsible for a series of events.
SSG’s cause in the process of causing a series of bad news is ‘generational change’. In the second draft, he moved to secure space in the saturated salary cap (cap on total annual salary) under the pretext of a generational change. Both generational change and salary cap are not unrelated to Choo Shin-soo at all.
Of course, SSG also knows well that it cannot make sudden changes because there are many veterans among the main players in the team’s composition. However, coordination may be necessary in terms of salary cap. Choo Shin-soo has already accepted 1.7 billion won as an annual salary this year, 1 billion won cut from the previous year, considering the team’s salary cap situation, but this is also a formidable amount. Except for free agents (FA) and multi-year contract players, it is the highest annual salary in the entire league.
The club is in a position to respect Choo’s choice. New coach Lee Sung-yong also said, “I intend to respect whatever judgment I make. Choo Shin-soo has experience especially in the Major League and is a leader of the team. “I’m going to consult with the club and go in the direction that the player wants,” he said. I wonder how Choo Shin-soo’s decision and the direction of the club will end up.