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Free agent signings vow to live up to heightened expectations

15:04 January 19, 2023

BUSAN, Jan. 19 (Yonhap) -- A trio of free agent signings for the Lotte Giants said Thursday they will try to respond to the faith shown by the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club, determined to let their performances on the field do the talking.

The Giants unveiled their three key offseason acquisitions in their home city of Busan on Thursday. Infielder No Jin-hyuk, catcher Yoo Kang-nam and pitcher Han Hyun-hee all left their previous clubs to join the Giants, as they look to make the postseason for the first time since 2017.

Free agent signings for the Lotte Giants pose for photos during their joint introductory press conference in Busan, 325 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Jan. 19, 2023. From left: pitcher Han Hyun-hee, catcher Yoo Kang-nam and infielder No Jin-hyuk. (Yonhap)

No, 33, had spent the past 10 seasons with the NC Dinos, before agreeing to a four-year deal with the Giants worth 5 billion won (US$4.1 million). Yoo, 30, bolted from the LG Twins after 12 years with the organization for a four-year contract worth 8 billion won. Earlier this week, the Giants signed Han, the 29-year-old native of Busan, to a three-year deal with an option for a fourth year, worth 4 billion won.

This offseason, a KBO team could sign a maximum three free agents, and the Giants were the only team to reach that quota.

New Lotte Giants catcher Yoo Kang-nam speaks at a joint introductory press conference in Busan, 325 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Jan. 19, 2023. (Yonhap)

No is a steady defender who can handle shortstop and third base positions, and has started hitting with more power in his early 30s.

"The Giants really valued me and reached out with sincerity," No said. "I've been working really hard this winter, hoping I can live up to their show of faith. I still feel a little awkward wearing this uniform, but I am looking forward to becoming a part of this team."

No, one of the senior members of the team, said he will also try to set a good example for his younger teammates.

Yoo has been a workhorse behind the plate, having logged more defensive innings than any other catcher over the past three seasons while flashing top-rated framing skills.

"I feel a bit of pressure after signing such a big contract, but it has also given me a clear sense of purpose," Yoo said. "This is a new challenge for me. I will try to help the team win in any way I can."

New Lotte Giants infielder No Jin-hyuk speaks at a joint introductory press conference in Busan, 325 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Jan. 19, 2023. (Yonhap)

As for building rapport with a new pitching staff, Yoo said: "My goal is always to be a catcher that pitchers want to throw to. I want to make sure my pitchers can trust me behind the dish."

Han is a sidearm pitcher who can start and come out of the bullpen, someone who can add depth to the Giants' staff.

"I was born in Busan and started playing baseball here, and I am really happy to be back," Han said. "I will try to be a responsible player. I will let my performances do the talking."

New Lotte Giants pitcher Han Hyun-hee speaks at a joint introductory press conference in Busan, 325 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Jan. 19, 2023. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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