Most defeated humiliation… ‘Option 55%’ frustration of 4 billion submarines, will they recover their reputation in 2024

Han was once a setup man representing the league. In the 2012 Rookie Draft, Han joined Nexen (currently Kiwoom) as the No. 1 player in the first round and became a submarine pitcher who threw fast balls over 150 kilometers. He became the hold king for the second consecutive year with the games held in 2013 (23 holds) and 2014 (31 holds). He garnered 11 wins each in 2015 and 2018, showing off his potential as a starting pitcher. Through the 2022 season, he posted an ERA of 4.26 with 65 wins and 43 losses in 416 games, eight saves and 105 holds.

Overall, however, Han’s career has gone downhill. In 2021, Han was even disqualified from the national team for the Tokyo Olympics after it was revealed that they had a meeting to violate quarantine rules. After posting six wins, four losses and an ERA of 4.75 in 21 games last year, he was also shunned in the postseason entry list.

Eventually, he failed to make an appeal and entered the free agent market at the end of 2022. However, Han was not popular. He could have drawn attention as he was still young and had a clear peak, but his slump in the FA season was fatal. However, his hometown team Lotte suddenly recruited him. Lotte, which already recruited Yoo Kang-nam (four years worth 8 billion won), and Noh Jin-hyeok (four years worth 5 billion won), dominated the FA market by recruiting Han, and displayed strong commitment to win-now.

It was a three-plus-year contract worth 4 billion won (3,500,000 U.S. dollars). However, out of the four billion won contract, the guaranteed amount is only 1.8 billion won (3,500,000 dollars in down payment + 1.5 billion won in annual salary). The remaining 2.2 billion won is all incentives. Incentives account for 55 percent of the incentives. This includes the right to opt-out if certain conditions are met during the first three-year contract. It was effectively a three-plus-year contract, and the scale of the contract would increase to 4 billion won depending on what kind of performance Han Hyun-hee makes.

By adding a resource called Han Hyun-hee, Lotte recently provided safety measures for its career. On the contrary, Han Hyun-hee was full of motivation elements. To meet the incentive conditions, ordinary performances should not have been performed only. It was a tight condition for Han to achieve incentives only when he showed the best performance.

She trained herself harshly when she returned to her hometown team. From the time she didn’t sign a contract to the spring camp, she spent all her time training hard. She literally trained hard. “I did it very hard. I don’t think I’ll be satisfied even if I do well,” she said stressing that this season will be different.

However, as the season began, Han did not meet expectations. His hard work did not bring about the results. He started the season with five starters this year, but later took care of some inconveniences as he moved to and from the bullpen. However, he had only 6 wins, 12 losses and three holds with an ERA of 5.45 (104 innings and 63 earned runs). He suffered the disgrace of the pitcher who lost the most in the league this year.

With Lee In-bok, who was considered the fourth starter ahead of the season’s opening, being confirmed to leave early and mid-season after undergoing surgery to remove bone fragments in his elbow, recruitment of Han Hyun-hee, an all-weather resource, was as good as ever. He was sluggish during the month of April due to bad luck, but he seemed to settle down with two wins and two losses with a 1.64 ERA (22 innings) as a starter during the month of May.

However, he was shaken again in June and moved to the bullpen when Lee returned. He failed to show any clear performance even in the bullpen. Starting from the second half of the year, he had to switch between starting pitcher and bullpen pitcher. He was an FA pitcher, but he failed to solidify his position and felt uneasy. As a starter, he had only four wins and 10 losses with an ERA of 5.11 in 18 games, and as a bullpen pitcher, he only posted an ERA of two wins, two losses and three holds of 7.13 in 20 games.

Whether it was a starter or a bullpen session, the team failed to leave records that would instill confidence in the team. New manager Kim Tae-hyung and pitching coach Joo Hyung-kwang also need to find ways to properly utilize Han Hyun-hee. Last year, the team effectively entered the spring camp with five starters confirmed, and prepared for the upcoming season, but this year is different. Foreigners including Park Se-woong and Na Kyun-an have been confirmed to some extent, thanks to Charlie Barnes and Aaron Wilkerson’s one-two punch. However, the fifth starter is competition again. Lee must compete with Lee In-bok, who is also desperate, and Shim Jae-min, who hinted at the possibility as a left-handed starter in the second half of last year. If he goes to the bullpen, he should serve as a setup man, but he feels more anxious to assume an important role. He has ample experience, but he cannot overlook the current situation.

For Han Hyun-hee’s own sake, 2024 is desperately needed. If the record is in 2023, most of the incentives are likely to have evaporated. Han Hyun-hee’s personal reputation has also been tarnished once again. From Lotte’s point of view, Han Hyun-hee’s performance is important to prove the reason for the investment. 2024 is coming, which cannot be missed by both Han Hyun-hee and Lotte.


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