Downtrodden ex-KBO MVP signs with hometown club

SEOUL, Seo Geon-chang, a former most valuable player (MVP) in South Korean baseball who has fallen on hard times lately, has found a new home with his hometown club. The Kia Tigers announced Monday they have signed Seo to a one-year deal worth up to 120 million won (US$91,360). The 34-year-old will earn 50 million won in guaranteed salary and can make another 70 million won in incentives. Seo played baseball from elementary school through high school in the southwestern city of Gwangju, the Tigers' home city. The second baseman had spent the past three seasons with the LG Twins, with whom he'd made his Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) debut in 2008, but had gradually lost playing time due to injuries and the emergence of younger players. He blossomed into one of the KBO's top contact hitters after joining the Nexen (currently Kiwoom) Heroes in 2012. In 2014, Seo was voted the regular season MVP after leading the league with 201 hits and a .370 batting average. No other player has topped 200 hits in leag ue history. Seo batted at least .300 in four of the next five seasons but hit a downslope after getting traded to the Twins in 2021. In 2022, Seo only appeared in 77 games and batted .224. He only played 44 games last year while hitting a career-worst .200. Seo did not declare free agency in each of the past three offseasons despite gaining eligibility after the 2021 season, knowing that few, if any, teams would line up to sign him to a multiyear deal. The Twins chose not to tender him a deal in November and made him a free agent, and the Tigers extended Seo a lifeline. "Seo Geon-chang brings a ton of experience to our ball club, and we felt he could help with the development of our young and promising infielders," the Tigers said. "We will count on him to be the leader for our young core, and we hope he can bounce back playing for his hometown club." Source: Yonhap News Agency