Kia Tigers Re-sign Choi Hyoung-woo; All-Time KBO RBI Leader Returning For 19th Season

Choi Hyoung-Woo of the KIA Tigers hits a single in the top of the ninth inning during the KBO League game between KIA Tigers and SK Wyverns at the Incheon SK Happy Dream Park on May 23, 2020 in Incheon, South Korea. (Photo by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

The Korean Baseball Organization’s all-time RBI leader, Hyoung-woo Choi, signed a two-year contract with the Kia Tigers for the 2024 regular season, Jee-ho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency reported on Jan. 5. 

According to Yoo, Choi’s contract has a guaranteed first year with a vesting option for a second season, and it will become guaranteed if Choi meets a performance incentive threshold. The contract could be worth up to $1.7 million. 

Choi, a 40-year-old designated hitter, is the oldest non-free agent player to sign a multi-year contract in KBO history. 

Choi was born in Jeonju, North Jeolla, South Korea, and played his first season in the KBO during 2002 with the Samsung Lions. 

During his career, Choi has played with the Samsung Lions from 2002-05 and 2008-16, and also played with the Korean Police Baseball Team in the KBO Futures minor league in 2006 and 2007. He has been with the Kia Tigers since 2017. 

Choi won the KBO Rookie of the Year Award in 2008 with the Samsung Lions. He hit .276 with 19 homers and 71 RBI in 126 games and helped the franchise reach the playoffs. 

Choi has 1,542 RBI in his career and is trailed by one active KBO player, Choi Jeong of the SSG Landers with 1,454 RBI. Retired South Korean baseball legend Lee Seung-yuop is second in KBO history with 1,498 RBI. 

Choi is also fifth on the all-time home run list with 373, one back of the recently retired Dae-ho Lee with 374. 

Last season, Choi played in 121 games with the Kia Tigers, batting .302 with 130 hits, 27 doubles, one triple, 17 home runs, 81 RBI, 65 walks, 83 strikeouts, and a .887 OPS. The Kia Tigers went 73-69-2 during the 2023 season and finished in sixth place, missing the playoffs. 

In 2022, Choi batted .264 in 132 games, recording 120 hits, 27 doubles, one triple, 14 home runs, 71 RBI, 73 walks, 92 strikeouts, and a .787 OPS. 

In 18 seasons in the KBO, Choi has played in 2,065 games with a lifetime average of .312 recording 2,323 hits, 490 doubles, 17 triples, 373 home runs, 28 stolen bases, 1,078 walks, 1,318 strikeouts, and a .934 OPS. 

Choi has won five KBO Gold Gloves, nabbing the prize in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017. 

All 10 KBO clubs will begin their training camp during the middle of January for the 2024 KBO regular season, which will start on March 23.

The Kia Tigers will play their first game of the 2024 season on March 23 against the Kiwoom Heroes at home at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field in Gwangju, South Korea.

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