Choo Shin-soo to retire after playing as SSG captain next season

SSG’s Choo Shin-soo (41-photo) will hang up his jersey in 2024. Next season, he will burn one last flame for the team and fans as the “lowest-paid” team captain.

“Shin-soo Choo has decided to retire after the 2024 season,” SSG announced on Thursday. As the oldest player in the KBO, Shin-soo Choo will retire in 2024 and end his colorful career. After graduating from Busan High School, Shin-soo Choo moved to the United States in 2001 and endured a grueling minor league career before making his big league debut with Seattle in 2005. He then moved on to Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Texas, where he played for 16 seasons until 2020. In his big league career, Shin-Soo Choo batted .275 with 218 home runs, 782 RBIs, 157 doubles, and an OPS of 0.824, making him one of the most successful Korean major leaguers of all time.

He took on a new challenge in the KBO in 2021, donning an SSG uniform. After batting .265 with 21 home runs, 25 doubles, and an OPS of 0.860 in his first year, Choo defied his age, and while his individual numbers may have dropped a bit the following year, he became the “nucleus” of the squad and played a pivotal role in helping the team win the wire-to-wire title.

Although he still hit double-digit home runs (12) in the 2023 season, Shin-soo felt that both his performance and stamina were on the decline, and he has been seriously considering whether to extend his career or retire after this season.

“I thought about it a lot with my family in the off-season,” he said through the club, adding, “The club and new coach Lee Sung-yong needed me, and they respected my opinion. Next year, the results are important, but I would like to contribute to the team by training with the junior players in the Futures (second team) team at any time depending on the team situation and sharing my experiences and thoughts.”

He also informed the club of his intention to receive the lowest annual salary (30 million won) upon retirement. It’s a considerate decision for a team with limited salary cap space, and it shows how Choo is preparing for his final season. His voluntary salary cut of 1.67 billion won will give SSG more room to maneuver in terms of salary cap, player salaries, and free agent (FA) negotiations.

Choo Shin-soo, who has already donated more than 2.4 billion won to the development of amaeba baseball and support for the underprivileged, said he would donate even the 30 million won he will receive next season. After being asked by Lee to take over as captain, Shin-soo Choo accepted and will fulfill his final responsibilities as a veteran in his retirement season.

“After 23 years of playing baseball in the U.S. and Korea since 2001, I think it’s time to put the finishing touches on my career,” said Shin-soo Choo. “As it’s my last season, I want to thank the fans for their support and give them meaningful memories regardless of whether they are home or away.”

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