Only the first-nominated infielder Ahn Jae-seok (21) and first-rounder right-hander Kim Dong-ju (21) were appointed by Doosan ahead of Choi Seung-yong. Ahn Jae-seok received 200 million won and Kim Dong-ju received 120 million won. Ahn Jae-seok and Kim Dong-ju clearly led the team, appreciating their potential more than Choi Seung-yong.
However, Choi Seung-yong was the first player to establish himself as a member of the main league. He has already surpassed his peers in this year’s salary. Choi received 60 million won (53 million won) this year, while Ahn Jae-seok received 53 million won and Kim Dong-ju received 31 million won.
Choi made his debut in the second half of 2021 and has proved his use in the first team in earnest. When Ham Deok-ju was traded to the LG Twins ahead of the 2021 season, he became thirsty for a left-handed bullpen. As he entered the path of a baseball player in middle school, his strength was that he had a clean pitching form and solid basic skills even though he started later than his peers. He absorbed the coaches’ guidance faster than his peers, and he also had the guts to throw his ball on the mound of the first team. Since he recorded 15 games, two holds, 18 ⅓ innings and a 3.93 ERA in the bullpen in his first year, he has continued to live in the first team.
Last year and this year, he was more of a swing man. Last year, he pitched in 48 games (15 starts), recording three wins and seven losses, five holds, 93 ⅓ innings, and an ERA of 5.30. As it was his first time playing full-time in the first division, he lost physical strength towards the end of the season and his ERA soared to the five-point level. He clearly saw his growth this year. He pitched in 34 games (20 starts), with three wins and six losses, one save, 111 innings, and an ERA of 3.97. He was appointed to the extent that he was responsible for the most innings in his team, following Raul Alcantara (192 innings) and Kwak Bin (127 ⅓ innings), and he felt more stable towards the end of the second half. Kim Myung-shin, Hong Geon-hee and Jung Cheol-won, who had worked hard in the bullpen throughout the season, eased burdens on older players in the bullpen around fall. Choi Seung-yong was also the pitcher who made Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop laugh the most at the end of the season.
Doosan is expected to promise Choi Seung-yong, who has committed to his team for two consecutive years as a starter and bullpen pitcher, a good treatment next year. Choi is also highly likely to earn his first annual salary of around 100 million won in his fourth year as he has displayed performance that enabled him to receive high scores in high school grades. The annual salary of over 100 million won (approx. Choi plans to grow step by step into the left-handed ace that Doosan wants by widening the salary gap with his teammates.
Choi Seung-yong has been constantly mentioned as a successor to Doosan left-hander legend duo Yoo Hee-kwan and Jang Won-jun since last year. Yoo Hee-kwan won 101 games, the most in Doosan franchise left-hander history, and Jang Won-jun became the fourth left-hander in KBO history to win 130 games (132 games), before retiring in 2021 and this year. Choi has stood out since last year and displayed sufficient skills to fill the void of the veteran left-hander duo. Last month, he was elected as the representative of the 2023 Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) and wore his first national flag.
Lee has set up a plan to completely fix Choi as a starting pitcher starting from next year. Foreign players such as Alcantara and Brandon Waddell are seeking to renew their contracts, while Korean starters see Kwak and Choi as constant players. Sideam Choi Won-joon received individual training from Cho Woong-cheon, who joined his team after this season, and if it works, he can build up a solid starting lineup. Kim Dong-ju and Park Shin-ji are also expected to join the competition to select the fifth starting pitcher.
Was Choi fully recognized for his value during the salary negotiation table? Doosan is currently in the final stages of salary negotiations. Most of the players have signed their annual salary contracts and are preparing for next season. It is expected that the evaluation of Choi and other players who did their best to elevate their team from ninth place last year to fifth place this year will be revealed soon.