The Hanwha Eagles build a dynamite batting lineup with the signing of free agent Ahn Chi-hong.
The Hanwha Eagles signed free agent infielder Ahn Chi-hong on Tuesday for a 4+2-year contract totaling 7.2 billion won. The basic terms are 4.7 billion won guaranteed for four years and an option for 800 million won, totaling 5.5 billion won. A mutual option will be triggered for the second two years of the contract, with both the club and the player having the option, and in the event of a contract extension, a total of KRW 1.7 billion will be executed, including KRW 1.3 billion guaranteed for two years and KRW 400 million in options.
Ahn joined the Kia Tigers after graduating from Seoul High School and signed his first free agent contract with the Lotte Giants in 2020, before joining the Hanwha Eagles at the end of a four-year deal. This season, Ahn finished with a respectable 0.774 OPS in 121 games with 124 hits (0.292 batting average), 63 RBIs, and a 0.374 slugging percentage. His career numbers were equally steady, with 1,687 hits in 1,620 games and 5,677 at-bats for a .297 batting average and an OPS of .800.
Hanwha has been rebuilding in recent years, but with younger players in the lineup, there was a big need for a “veteran infielder” to support them. In particular, the rebuilding process led to a “batting slump,” and the team’s hitters did not shine except for last season’s free agent signings Chae Eun-sung, home run king Noh Si-hwan, and super rookie Moon Hyun-bin. The team also struggled to connect with foreign hitters.
Ahn Chi-hong has been a steady presence in the outfield, winning the KBO Golden Glove for second base in the 2011, 2017, and 2018 seasons, including MVP of his first All-Star Game as a high school rookie in 2009. Add to that the fact that he has played around 120 games in most seasons since his debut, with no major ups and downs.
Along with Ahn Chi-hong, Hanwha has also added a new outfielder, Jonathan Peraza, to revive its “dynamite batting lineup”. Peraza signed with Hanwha on July 19 for a total of $1 million, including a $200,000 signing bonus, $600,000 in salary, and a $200,000 option.
Peraza has been a force in the minor leagues this season. At Triple-A, Peraza hit .284 with 23 home runs in 121 games. His slugging percentage was a whopping .534, with over five doubles, and his OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) was .922.
Add to that Noh Shi-hwan, who has established himself as Hanwha’s new No. 4 hitter with a .298 batting average, 31 home runs, 101 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.929 in 131 games this season, and Chae Eun-sung, who has 23 home runs and 84 RBIs, and you have a formidable top of the order.
Manager Son Hyuk said the same day, “There was no reason for the club to hesitate to sign him. Ahn Chi-hong is a player who possesses both ‘steadiness and sincerity’, which are essential for our team.” “He has played 13 seasons with more than 100 games since his debut in 2009 and has a career OPS of 0.8. His batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage have never been down or up. We really needed that kind of consistency in our team, so we approached Ahn with the intention of signing him, and it worked out great.”
“First and foremost, Ahn has a high BQ. Especially when it comes to hitting, he is a situational hitter. For example, when he needs to get on base, he focuses on getting on base, and when he needs to drive in runs, he has the ability to hit for the situation. In addition, he has proven leadership skills, so I think he is a player that many younger players on our team can learn from.”
Ahn Chi-hong is expected to play a “connecting” role for Hanwha. “As a No. 2 hitter or batting behind the cleanup trio,” Son Hyuk said. The idea is to create better offensive opportunities by batting between the center fielders. “We expect our batting depth to be strengthened because he has shown consistency in his batting,” said Son, adding, “He will create synergy with the new foreign players, Noh Si-hwan and Chae Eun-sung. In defense, he can play not only second base but also first base depending on the situation, so I think he will have a lot of versatility.”
After signing with Hanwha, Ahn Chi-hong said, “Hanwha gave me a good offer, so I was able to make a quick decision. During the negotiation process, they emphasized why I was a good fit for the Hanwha Eagles. They emphasized how my coming to the Hanwha Eagles would fill in the gaps that the team had been lacking,” he said. “I also chose Hanwha with the expectation that I would have a lot to share as a veteran because the Eagles are a team with a lot of young players, so it was a good match for us.” 캡틴토토 주소
He also thanked the Lotte fans, saying, “I received undeserved love from Lotte fans for four years. I’m very grateful to them, and I’m sad that I can’t be with them until the end, but I’ll keep the love of Lotte fans in my heart.”
He also thanked the Hanwha fans, saying, “Watching the passionate support from the Hanwha fans at the stadium made me think about how wonderful they are. I’m happy to be a part of the Hanwha Eagles, and I’m looking forward to the new season with the fans on the field. I hope to be a player who can fill the gaps in our team and live up to the expectations and love of our fans.”
In addition to Ahn, Hanwha will be looking to sign additional free agents. However, the team will monitor the market. “I think we should meet with internal free agent Jang Min-jae first. “We are open to all possibilities, but we have a lot of work to do besides free agency, such as the secondary draft and the issue of foreign pitchers, so we plan to move cautiously from now on while watching the market situation.
Lotte, which also missed out on Ahn Chi-hong, signed internal free agent Jeon Jun-woo that morning. Lotte agreed to a four-year, 4 billion won guaranteed contract with a total of 700 million won in incentives.
In addition, Jeon will donate his incentive money to the club for the 2027 season, which will be used to build a new stadium. The club also plans to support overseas coach training for two years after the player’s retirement to provide opportunities for junior players to develop and become leaders.
“I would like to express my gratitude to the Lotte fans who have shown me a lot of interest and support since joining Lotte, and to owner Shin Dong-bin for recognizing my performance over the past four years and my future value in my second free agency,” said Jeon. “As a Lotte franchise player, I will live up to the expectations of the fans by performing well, as I signed for a satisfactory amount.