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Star free agent re-signs with original KBO club

All Headlines 14:56 January 08, 2020

SEOUL, Jan. 8 (Yonhap) -- All-Star outfielder Jeon Jun-woo has signed a lucrative free agent deal to stay with the Lotte Giants.

The Giants announced Wednesday that they've locked up Jeon for the next four seasons at up to 3.4 billion won (US$2.9 million). Jeon, considered the biggest fish in an otherwise mediocre free agency class, will make 2 billion won in total salary through 2023. He got a signing bonus of 1.2 billion won up front and could make an additional 200 million won in incentives. He earned 500 million won in 2018.

In this photo provided by the Lotte Giants on Jan. 8, 2020, Jeon Jun-woo (L), outfielder for the Giants, shakes hands with team president Lee Seok-hwan after signing a four-year contract in free agency to stay with the Korea Baseball Organization club. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The 33-year-old has spent his entire 11-year Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) career with the Giants. In 2019, he batted .301 with 22 home runs, 83 RBIs, 85 runs scored and 30 doubles in 141 games, putting together one of his most productive seasons even as offensive numbers across the KBO fell with the adoption of a "de-juiced" ball. He ranked among the top 10 in the league in home runs, runs scored and hits.

The former second-round draft pick is a lifetime .294 hitter and has batted over .300 in each of his past three years.

"We absolutely need Jeon Jun-woo on our team, and we never once thought we would lose him to another club," the Giants said in a statement. "He's an exemplary veteran who will make a positive impact on our players on and off the field."

As the negotiations dragged into the new year, Jeon fired his agent earlier this week and represented himself at the table to get the deal done.

"I'd like to thank Lotte fans for their patience and support," Jeon said in the team's statement. "So many people told me that they wanted me to stay, and I'd like to repay their love with a strong performance on the field."

The Giants may move Jeon from left field to first base to spell veteran Lee Dae-ho, which would allow Lee, who'll turn 38 in June, to get more at-bats as designated hitter.

In this file photo from July 3, 2019, Jeon Jun-woo of the Lotte Giants hits a three-run home run against the SK Wyverns in the top of the third inning of a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at SK Happy Dream Park in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Jeon used to be a decent center fielder but has been one of the KBO's worst left fielders over the past two years by advanced metrics. Jeon was forced to make that move to left following the Giants' signing of All-Star center fielder Min Byung-hun in free agency prior to the 2018 season.

The Giants said Jeon has expressed willingness to switch to first base and that they'll give younger players a chance to take over in outfield.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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