SSG Landers Reassign GM Kim Sung-yong Amid Offseason Controversies

SEOUL – In a significant move, the SSG Landers, a prominent South Korean baseball team, have reassigned their General Manager (GM) Kim Sung-yong to a different role following a series of recent mishaps. This decision marks a tumultuous period for the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) team during the offseason.

According to Yonhap News Agency, The SSG Landers announced on Saturday that Kim Sung-yong will now lead the team's research and development center, which focuses on player development, instead of continuing in his role as GM. This change comes in the wake of several controversial decisions and incidents involving the team.

One of the key events leading to this decision was the abrupt firing of manager Kim Won-hyong on October 31, shortly after the team's first-round exit in the postseason. This was a surprising move, considering Kim Won-hyong had led the Landers to the Korean Series title in 2022 and had two years remaining on his contract.

The team’s approach to assembling a new coaching staff even before naming a successor to Kim Won-hyong raised eyebrows. Typically, teams name a new manager first, who then assembles his own coaching staff. During the managerial search, multiple potential candidates' names were leaked, including Choo Shin-soo, a former major leaguer and outfielder/designated hitter for the Landers.

However, the most significant controversy involved the handling of franchise star Kim Kang-min. In the KBO's "secondary draft" held on Wednesday, the Landers left the 41-year-old off their 35-man protected list, making him vulnerable to selection by other teams. The Hanwha Eagles chose Kim, who had been with the Landers (formerly the SK Wyverns) since 2002. The Landers had offered Kim a coaching position for 2024 but could not protect him in the draft due to their focus on young prospects.

The Landers faced backlash from fans for their handling of Kim Kang-min, especially since they had not placed an asterisk next to his name in the draft to indicate his potential retirement, leaving him open for selection by the Eagles.

Kim Sung-yong's appointment as GM in December last year was also controversial. He replaced longtime GM Ryu Sun-kyu in a move that was seen as favoritism, being a close friend of Shinsegae Group Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin, the club owner’s right-hand man. Kim Sung-yong, who previously had no experience running a KBO front office and was a high school head coach, now faces a shift in his professional role within the organization.

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