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All-Star infielder switches teams on lucrative free agent deal

Sports 15:11 January 06, 2020

SEOUL, Jan. 6 (Yonhap) -- All-Star second baseman An Chi-hong on Monday became the first free agent this winter to switch teams in South Korean baseball.

The former Kia Tigers veteran agreed to a two-year deal worth up to 2.6 billion won (US$2.2 million) with the Lotte Giants, with a mutual option for two additional years at another 3.1 billion won after the 2021 season.

This photo provided by the Lotte Giants on Jan. 6, 2020, shows the team's new second baseman, An Chi-hong, who signed a two-year free agent deal earlier in the day. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The Giants said An, in the current deal, will make 580 million won (US$495,470) in annual salary, with a signing bonus of 1.42 billion won and an option for another 600 million won.

An, 29, spent his first 10 seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) with the Tigers. In 1,124 career games, An put together a .300/.380/.412 line with 100 home runs and 586 RBIs.

An, a three-time Golden Glove winner, enjoyed his best offensive season in 2018, batting .342 in 130 games with 23 home runs and 118 RBIs, all career highs. In 2019, he was limited to five home runs and 49 RBIs in 105 games, though he still hit .315.

With An and the Tigers unable to find a middle ground, the Giants swooped in and acquired the proven veteran.

The Giants said An should be able to bolster their lineup and create competition in the infield.

In a slow-developing open market, An became only the seventh among 19 free agents to sign a deal, and the first to do so with a new club. The half-dozen others all re-signed with their original teams.

In this file photo from May 31, 2019, An Chi-hong, then of the Kia Tigers, hits a single against the Kiwoom Heroes in the bottom of the eighth inning of a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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