Days after Shohei Ohtani formally turned a Dodger, the Giants finalized their first huge splash of the offseason, saying a six-year, $113 million take care of KBO star Jung Hoo Lee on Thursday. The contract consists of an opt-out after the 2027 season.
San Francisco will maintain an introductory press convention for Lee on Friday at 4 p.m. ET/1 PT at Oracle Park.
One among Korea’s greatest gamers, Lee was posted by the Kiwoom Heroes after seven seasons within the KBO, permitting him to hunt a possibility in Main League Baseball. If he stays in San Francisco for all the contract, the Giants can even owe the Heroes an $18.825 million posting payment, bringing their complete outlay to almost $132 million.
The 25-year-old outfielder posted an eye-popping .340/.407/.491 slash line throughout his KBO profession, by no means hitting beneath .318 in any season. Additionally thought of an above-average defender in heart subject, Lee has the potential to influence either side of the ball as he makes the leap to MLB.
President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi wouldn’t touch upon the Giants’ reported settlement with Lee when experiences of the deal leaked on Tuesday, although he reiterated the membership’s want to enhance its athleticism and protection up the center this offseason.
“We’ve talked about shortstop and heart subject as being our two priorities,” Zaidi mentioned throughout a Zoom name with reporters. “At each of these spots, we’ve in-house choices. We’ve got [Mike Yastrzemski] out in heart subject, though we’ve talked in regards to the influence he can deliver defensively in proper.”
The Giants closely scouted Lee earlier than he was posted, with common supervisor Pete Putila touring to South Korea to attend Lee’s closing recreation with the Heroes in October.
“It was an incredible journey,” Putila mentioned earlier this month. “He bought off six or seven swings in a single at-bat, so it was nice to see him take these swings. I bought to see him take fly balls pregame a number of completely different days. Simply to expertise the sport over there, the joy, the power was off the charts.
“It was a extremely good expertise.”
A second-generation star, Lee has adopted in his father’s footsteps on the trail to baseball stardom. He’s the son of legendary Korean shortstop Jong Beom Lee, generally known as “Son of the Wind.” (Jung Hoo Lee is nicknamed “Grandson of the Wind” as an homage to his father.)
The youthful Lee broke into the KBO at a younger age, making his debut with the Heroes as an 18-year-old in 2017, a mere 5 years after his father performed his closing KBO season.
Lee’s greatest season on the plate got here in 2022, when he hit .349 with a career-high 23 homers, 113 RBIs and a .996 OPS over 142 video games, incomes KBO MVP honors. His likelihood to win a second straight MVP Award was minimize brief when he sustained a fractured left ankle in July, however the harm isn’t anticipated to hinder him sooner or later.
Previous to the 2023 KBO season, Lee participated within the World Baseball Classic. Whereas Korea didn’t advance previous pool play, Lee impressed to the tune of a .429/.500/.571 batting line with two doubles and 5 RBIs.
Lee’s arrival will additional crowd the Giants’ outfield combine, which additionally consists of Yastrzemski, Mitch Haniger, Michael Conforto, Austin Slater, Luis Matos and Wade Meckler.
San Francisco might unencumber at-bats within the outfield by shifting Haniger and Conforto to the designated hitter slot, although the membership might additionally contemplate dealing from the group to create extra alternatives for youthful gamers.