When I switched to pitching, I thought I wanted to pitch in the first team. But I persevered and became a closer, and the pitcher I looked up to was Oh Seung-hwan, the best closer in Korea. Now I get to play on the same team as my idol. They work out together and pitch together to win. It was a dream come true for him. It’s something he’s been working hard to achieve.굿모닝토토
Free agent Kim Jae-yoon moved to the Samsung Lions. The four-year deal totaled 5.8 billion won. It’s an amount he didn’t expect when he applied for free agency.
Kim Jae-yoon said, “I’ve come this far by persevering. I’m proud of myself. I am grateful to my parents for giving me a healthy body.” “I am grateful to Samsung for calling me under such good conditions. I still have a lot to learn as a pitcher, but they did a great job. Now I can only think of repaying them,” he said with joy and determination.
Although he joined the team as a catcher, he knew he wasn’t a good hitter, so he accepted the offer to switch to pitching because of his strong shoulders. “At that time, I didn’t think about being a hitter because I was too bad at it,” said Kim Jae-yoon. “I thought that if I didn’t become a pitcher, I was done.”
That’s how he started. He became a closer for the weak KT, but his performance was not good. However, after Lee Kang-cheol took over as manager, the team’s performance improved, and Kim Jae-yoon’s performance also improved. Until this year, he had 30 saves for three consecutive years, and in 2021, he had a great moment when he wrapped up the championship with his own hand.
“If I could only take one moment, it would be when we won the championship. I think it’s the happiest moment in my baseball life. I was even happier that we won the championship while there was still a perception that we were the bottom team.”
It’s a farewell to the teammates with whom he shared the championship and the disappointment of the recent Korean Series loss, and he’ll have to pitch to them as a competitor next year. “I can’t imagine it yet,” Kim Jae-yoon said, “I think I’ll laugh when we meet on the mound, but I’m also scared because KT is a strong team.”
He is forever grateful to the KT fans. Kim Jae-yoon said, “You have given me so much love for nine years. I am sorry and grateful. I’m sorry, I’m grateful,” he said.
Now we come to Samsung, which is in the bottom tier. But Kim Jae-yoon didn’t think of Samsung as a bottom feeder. “I didn’t see them as weak,” he said. “First of all, they have a good offense, and I felt that they have a lot of young pitchers with high potential. If we ask them to integrate into the team quickly and try to create synergy with each other, it will be better. If we do that, we can go up together next year,” he said optimistically.
In fact, he doesn’t have many close friends at Samsung. But there is one player he likes more than anyone else. It’s Oh Seung-hwan. Oh Seung-hwan is also a free agent. However, he is optimistic about signing with Samsung.
Kim Jae-yoon was a training partner with Oh during the 2019 Arizona spring training when he was a major leaguer. They got to know each other well and have been seeing each other personally ever since. “We had a few meals together, and I asked him a lot of questions,” Kim said, adding, “I’m so excited to finally be with you. I have so many questions. You’re good at self-care, and I want to hear all about it.”
Oh Seung-hwan had his ups and downs last year, but he remained an idol for Kim Jae-yoon. “You’re so great, why don’t you keep playing? He’s in a different class,” said Kim Jae-yoon. “He had a bad start last year, but in the end, he threw well again. He is a different person.”
He will finish with 169 career saves and 400 career saves. He wondered who would be the closer. “In the end, it’s a competition. Even if I stay at KT, I think it’s a competition,” he said, adding, “No matter what position I take, I will do my best to help Samsung win.”