KT Wiz head coach Lee Kang-cheol has signed a new three-year contract. KT officially announced the news of Lee’s re-signing on Nov. 11.
Lee signed a three-year contract from next season to 2026 for a total of 2.4 billion won ($600 million in signing bonus and $600 million in annual salary). Lee, who took the helm of KT in 2019, will now lead the organization for a total of eight years.
KT’s history is divided into before and after Lee. After languishing in the bottom half of the standings under Cho Bum-hyun and Kim Jin-wook and developing young players since its inception, KT made a leap to the top under Lee. In 2019, KT played the NC Dinos in a best-of-five series for the first time, finishing sixth with a 5.5 percent winning percentage of 71 wins, 2 draws and 71 losses.
In 2020, they experienced fall baseball for the first time. Instead of a fifth-place finish, they finished second and went directly to the playoffs. After finishing second in the regular season with 81 wins, 1 loss, and 62 draws, KT fell short in the playoffs against the Doosan Bears with a 1-3 record.
In 2021, they finished tied for first place with the Samsung Lions with 76 wins, 9 losses, and 59 draws. They played the first-ever first-place game in the KBO, winning the regular season with a dramatic 1-0 victory to advance directly to the Korean Series, and swept the Doosan Bears in four straight games to win the franchise’s first overall title.
After falling to last place last year due to injuries to its main players, KT continued its fall baseball season in fourth place with a strong second half, and this year, after a longer period of falling to last place due to more injuries to its main players than last year, KT performed a “miracle” by climbing to second place. Four consecutive postseason appearances.
KT couldn’t afford to let go of a manager who produced magical seasons year after year, and re-signed him to the highest contract of any active manager.
There were twists and turns.
In fact, KT had pushed for an early re-signing after last season. KT had already re-signed Lee early after the 2020 season. In 2019, KT signed Lee for a total of 1.2 billion won ($300 million down payment, $300 million annual salary) for three years. However, after finishing second in the regular season in 2020, just two years into the contract, the team re-signed him early for a total of 2 billion won ($500,000 down payment, $500,000 annual salary) for three years.
He won the championship in his first season and led the team to a miraculous fourth-place finish last year, prompting KT to re-sign him early again. Worried that other clubs would offer to sign him as his reputation grew, KT decided to re-sign him early to avoid losing him to other clubs.
The 2023 KBO League game between the Kiwoom Heroes and KT Wiz was held at the Gocheok Sky Dome on the 13th. KT’s Park Byung-ho is greeted by manager Lee Kang-cheol after hitting a solo home run to the left center field in the top of the ninth inning.
A game between KT and LG in the KBO League was held at Katie Weeds Park in Suwon on July 25. Manager Lee Kang-cheol talks to Benjamin on the mound with two outs in the eighth inning.
The 2023 KBO League game between the KIA Tigers and KT Wiz was held at the Gwangju KIA Champions Field on March 23. KT manager Lee Kang-cheol encourages Cuevas on the mound.
This time, however, it was delayed. The club’s intention to re-sign him was firm, but it was difficult to move forward due to group issues.
But as the season progressed, Lee’s stock rose. Lee’s magic has been immense. He took a last-place team to second place. KT, whose main players’ injuries were so severe that they were playing at the level of the first team, found themselves in sole possession of last place on May 7 with 8 wins, 2 draws, and 17 losses. It took a month to escape. Returning to the team that was considered a “favorite” before the season, KT won four straight games, including a 3-2 victory over the Lotte Giants on June 7 to improve to 20-2-30, knocking Hanwha out of 10th place and into ninth place.
From there, KT continued to rack up wins with a strong starting lineup, culminating in a 5-4 win over the Hanwha Eagles on August 19 to move into sole possession of second place with 57 wins, 2 draws, and 46 points. After that, they faced difficulties with injuries again, 스포츠토토 but they managed to secure the second place and complete the direct playoffs.
The communicative coach, who smiles and talks to even the youngest players, has always prioritized team chemistry. The team’s rise from last place to second place this season was made possible by the team’s “one team” mentality, and Lee’s communication is what created the team.
It is no secret that this season is the last season of Lee’s contract. The news of KT and Lee’s re-signing was all over the place. However, no announcement was made and there were rumors of ‘no way’. The parent club reportedly gave Lee a medical examination during the season. However, Lee politely declined. He wanted to keep his loyalty to KT.
KT quickly re-signed Lee, whose team finished the regular season in second place. The three-year contract totaled 2.4 billion won, surpassing SSG’s Kim Won-hyung (2.2 billion won over three years), who won the wire-to-wire title last year.