Free agent KBO pitcher signs with hometown club

SEOUL– Free agent pitcher Han Hyun-hee signed a multiyear contract with the Lotte Giants on Tuesday, returning to his hometown of Busan after 11 seasons in Seoul.

The Giants announced Han agreed to a three-year contract with an opt-out clause after the third season. He will make 1.5 billion won (US$1.2 million) in total salary and 300 million won up front in signing bonus.

Han had been one of the five free agents left unsigned in the Korea Baseball Organization. The 29-year-old sidearm pitcher had spent the previous 11 years with the Kiwoom Heroes, who drafted him with the No. 2 pick in the 2011 draft.

While splitting his time between the rotation and the bullpen, Han compiled a 65-43 record with eight saves and 105 holds in 416 games. He has a 4.26 ERA in 971 1/3 innings over his career.

Han fell out of favor with the Heroes late last season and did not pitch during their run to the Korean Series. After Han hit free agency, there had been rumors of a potential sign and trade, with the Heroes first inking him to a deal and shipping him out in exchange for players or picks.

Instead, the Giants will give the Busan native a fresh start.

“I want to thank the Giants organization for having faith in me. I am happy to be playing baseball in my hometown,” Han said. “I can’t wait to pitch in front of passionate Lotte fans.”

The Giants said Han should add much needed depth to their pitching staff, and they valued his ability to both start and pitch in relief.

Han will be formally introduced Thursday along with two other free agent signings, infielder No Jin-hyuk and catcher Yoo Kang-nam.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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