The Korea Herald


SSG Landers strip general manager of duties over mishaps

By Yonhap

Published : Nov. 25, 2023 - 15:11

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The Korea Baseball Organization club's then general manager, Kim Sung-yong (Courtesy of the SSG Landers) The Korea Baseball Organization club's then general manager, Kim Sung-yong (Courtesy of the SSG Landers)

The South Korean baseball club SSG Landers said Saturday they have stripped general manager (GM) Kim Sung-yong of his duties over a recent series of mishaps.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) team said Kim will instead lead its research & development center, which oversees player development.

Kim's reassignment is the latest development in what has been a tumultuous offseason for the Landers.

They abruptly fired manager Kim Won-hyong on Oct. 31, soon after the team's elimination in the first round of the postseason. Kim, who'd led the Landers to the Korean Series title in 2022, had two years left on his contract.

Even before Kim Won-hyong's successor was named, the Landers started putting together a new-look coaching staff, though, in case of a vacancy, teams typically name a new manager first and then let the skipper assemble his own staff.

During their managerial search, multiple names got leaked as candidates, including Choo Shin-soo, a former major leaguer who had just completed his third season with the Landers as an outfielder and designated hitter.

The biggest misstep happened this week when the Landers hung their franchise star Kim Kang-min out to dry.

For the KBO's "secondary draft" held Wednesday, the Landers left Kim, 41, off their 35-man protected list. In these drafts, veterans seen as being on the downhill of their careers are often left exposed, and they get a second chance elsewhere. The Hanwha Eagles selected Kim, who'd been playing for the Landers since 2002, when they were called the SK Wyverns under different ownership, and convinced him to extend his playing career by at least one more year.

The Landers have taken a beating from their fans for their poor handling of the well-respected veteran. The Landers had previously offered Kim a coaching position for 2024 but couldn't find room on their protected list for Kim because of their young prospects.

Before the draft, the Landers could have put an asterisk next to Kim's name and informed other clubs that Kim could retire, but they could still select him at their own risk. The Landers had neglected to do so, and the Eagles, seeking some veteran presence around their young outfield corps, pounced on Kim when he became available.

The Landers expressed surprise that Kim was chosen at all, but loyal Landers fans were outraged that the club had ruined an opportunity for Kim to finish his career with the only team he's known for over two decades.

Kim Sung-yong was promoted from head of the Landers' minor league R&D center to the GM post in December last year under a controversial circumstance. The Landers forced longtime GM Ryu Sun-kyu out the door to make room for Kim, believed to be a close friend of a right-hand man for the club owner, Shinsegae Group Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin.

Kim had no prior experience running a KBO front office, having previously been a high school head coach. (Yonhap)