The LG Twins’ first free agent signing was a ‘nail-biter’.
The LG Twins signed free agent Chan-kyu Lim to a four-year contract totaling 5 billion won ($600 million in signing bonus, $2 billion in annual salary, and $2.4 billion in incentives) on Tuesday.
In 11 seasons in an LG uniform from 2011 to 2023, Lim compiled a 65-72 record with eight saves and five holds in 298 games with a 4.62 ERA in 1075⅔ innings. In 2023, he started the season as a middle reliever and became a starter during a difficult time for the team, and finished with 14 wins, the most among Korean pitchers (3rd overall).
Upon signing, Lim said, “I’m happy to continue wearing the striped jersey that I’m so proud to be from. I didn’t think about any other club. I wanted to stay as an LG Twins player, and I’m grateful to the club for giving me a good contract. I think I was able to achieve my best results this season thanks to the fans who always support me passionately. I was able to feel the power of our fans once again, and I will prepare to achieve good results next year and the year after next so that they can always smile,” he said after signing the contract.
The club said, “Lim Chan-kyu is an essential player who represents the team. With his positive influence, he led the younger members of the team well and played a big role in helping the team win the overall championship. Especially this season, he recorded a career high and made us look forward to next season. He will lead the team in a good direction as well as his own performance.”
On the afternoon of the 20th, LG CEO Cha Myung-seok appeared on “Eltube wants to communicate” through the LG Twins’ official YouTube channel to talk about negotiations with free agents and announced that they will soon sign one. “There is a player who has almost reached an agreement,” Cha said, “I wonder if I will be able to deliver the contents soon. There are a few final ones left, but we are almost at the end. One player is almost done.” That player was Lim Chan-kyu.
At the start of this season, Im was not a mainstay of the team. He had been moved out of the starting rotation and into long relief. He started as the third starter last year, but struggled with a 6-11 record and a 5.04 ERA. New manager Yoon Kyung-yeop’s starting rotation consisted of Kim Yun-sik and newcomer Kang Hyo-jong, and he wanted the experienced Im Chan-kyu to back up the younger Korean starters. Im showed promise in the middle of the season, but was quickly thrust into the starting lineup as a substitute. Lee Min-ho went down with an injury.
He took over as the starter. His velocity has increased over the past two years to the mid-to-high 145 mph range, but the increase in velocity has taken away from his strengths. When his velocity was slow, he used his fastball and changeup to win games, but after his velocity increased, he used his power to win games. After two years of failure, Lim returned to his old ways this season, focusing on his tunneling, fastball, and changeup, which worked synergistically with his fastball. He went 4-0 with a 1.13 ERA in May, fueling LG’s rise. Although he struggled in June and July, he revitalized the team in August, when the team needed a starter.
In 30 appearances (26 starts) and 144⅔ innings pitched this season, Lim compiled a 14-6 record with a 3.42 ERA. He ranked third in wins and ninth in ERA. He ranked first in wins and fourth in ERA among Korean pitchers.
After helping LG win its first regular season title in 29 years, Lim also had the emotional moment of starting the Korean Series as “Elin,” which coincidentally happened to be on November 10, the same day LG came from behind to win the championship 21 years ago thanks to home runs by Lee Seung-yeop and Ma Hae-young. Game 3 of the Korean Series against the KT Wiz, which was tied 1-1, also happened to be on Nov. 10. Before the Korean Series, Lim told a childhood story about how he cried when he watched Samsung and LG lose Game 6 of the 2002 Korean Series on TV, 21 years ago, and coincidentally, he started on the same day 21 years later. Lim came off the mound after 3⅔ innings of work, giving up one run on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts. He didn’t go more than five innings, but he kept the damage to a minimum and turned the mound over to the bullpen. In Game 3, LG gave up a two-run homer to Park Byung-ho in the bottom of the eighth, but came back with a three-run homer by Oh Ji-hwan in the top of the ninth, and with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Lee Jung-yong caught Kim Sang-soo on a bases-loaded walk to set up one of the most epic games in Korean Series history, and LG went on to win the Korean Series.
After receiving his second free agent application, Lim confidently filled it out and submitted it, but that didn’t mean he had any intention of leaving LG. Although he was not supposed to attend the 2023 LOVE Giving Festival with Championship at Kyung Hee University’s Seoul Campus Peace Hall on April 2 because he is a free agent, he took a few minutes to greet fans.
“The FA says that they don’t attend events like this, but I thought I should say hello to the fans,” he said, showing his appreciation for them with a big bow.
When Lee Jung-yong enlisted in the military on the 18th, he even drove himself to take him to Nonsan Training Center. Even though he was a free agent, he acted like an LG player.