Whether You Have A Lot Of Money Or Less

I want to compliment myself for ‘well done’.

It took 15 years from joining the professional league to signing a contract as an FA. He lacked fastballs and was not a glamorous career, but he silently threw and held on to the spot that his team needed. To Hanwha pitcher Jang Min-jae (33), a FA contract is a sign of his 15-year survival in the professional league and a medal of honor.

Jang Min-jae signed a contract with his original team Hanwha for up to 800 million won for 2+1 years on the 21st. If the 2026 contract is executed with an option of 100 million won and a total annual salary of 400 million won between 2024 and 2025, an annual salary of 200 million won and an option of 100 million won will be added. The amount guaranteed is 400 million won, which is not a large contract. 배트맨토토

On the same day, LG Twins’ pitcher Lim Chan-kyu signed a four-year, 5 billion won (2.6 billion won with a guarantee), and shortstop Oh Ji-hwan signed a six-year, 12.4 billion won (10 billion won with a guarantee). It was the second smallest contract among eight FA contract players this winter, following Kia Tigers’ Ko Jong-wook (two-year, 500 million won with a guarantee of 400 million won). The amount is the same as Ko Jong-wook’s in terms of exemption from options.

To Jang, however, the size of the contract was not very important. The first thing that was left for Hanwha was important. Originally from Gwangju Jeil High School, he joined the team as the 22nd overall pick in the second round of the third round in 2009, and has been with only one team for 15 years until this year, becoming the oldest player among Hanwha players. Although he is not a glamorous star, he was like a salt that overcame selection and redemption depending on team circumstances and needs.

Ever since he applied for the FA, he had no intention of leaving Hanwha. The club, which wanted to protect at least one more player ahead of the second draft, also recommended Jang Min-jae apply for the FA. Players who applied for the FA will be automatically excluded from the list of players who are eligible for the second draft. Early on, he joined the FA market by forming a consensus with the club to stay there, and coordinated details with each other reasonably without hurting feelings during the negotiation process.

However, as the contract took some time, some people expressed negative opinions. It was also heard by the person concerned. “It took some time to think carefully because it was the first and last FA,” Jang said. “There were no troubles during the negotiations with the club. Rather, it hurt my heart when I heard that I became a lost child after looking at money. I didn’t mean to chase after money or go to another team. I had a hard time in that regard.”

For a player, an FA is an opportunity of a lifetime, and chasing money does not necessarily mean a bad thing. It is a legitimate right of a player, and Hanwha did not pressure Jang Min-jae during the negotiation process. They looked around the market conditions and gave time and consideration to make decisions by fully accommodating them. It’s not that he was not interested in other teams because he was a C-rated FA, but Jang Min-jae’s mind was not looking elsewhere.

“The Hanwha Eagles always topped my list. I never thought of going anywhere,” said Jang Min-jae. “The Hanwha Eagles is my home. It’s like a family. People say you have a hard time when you leave your home. Daejeon is comfortable and nice. (I was born in Gwangju) Now I am from Daejeon. I will retire from Hanwha as well,” he said, vowing to become a Hanwha man forever.

Another significant meaning is that he signed an FA contract that took 15 years to complete. Jang started playing baseball when he was a freshman in Hwajeong Elementary School in Gwangju, and he threw many balls at a young age and had elbow surgery twice before joining the pro league. Even when he was a pro, he joined the military after elbow surgery in 2012. He became a slow pitcher after three surgeries, but managed to improve his ball control and sharply dropped his fork ball to survive. He survived as a pro for 15 years with aggressive games that he did not avoid.

Although he has experienced ups and downs throughout his career, his consistent sincerity and silence have not changed. Jang Min-jae, who signed an FA contract after 15 years of enduring, said, “I want to compliment myself for ‘well done’. Whether you have a lot of money or a small amount, it is not easy to play until the FA. I’m not a Class A player, but I want to make it meaningful that I persevered and played as an FA. I’m grateful to my parents and younger sister for their support.”

It is not the end of signing an FA contract. That’s how much I feel responsible. “We need to go in the direction that our team can do well. My friend (Ahn) Chi-hong is also here, and now that we have strengthened our team’s capability, I’m looking forward to next season. I can only see the light when the team does well. I feel so great just thinking about lifting the trophy there, which will be a new stadium next year,” said Jang Min-jae. “I will throw without hesitation no matter what my job title will be. Whatever the score I get, I will throw hard for my team and to win.”

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