Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants have signed South Korean outfielder Jung Hoo Lee to a six-year, $113 million deal.
The South Korean powerhouse: Lee, a 25-year-old center fielder, is one of the standout players in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) League, having spent seven impressive seasons with the Kiwoom Heroes. With a remarkable .340 batting average, 65 home runs, 69 stolen bases and a disciplined approach at the plate, Lee’s prowess earned him the KBO MVP in 2022 and Rookie of the Year in 2017.
Lee’s numbers: In the league’s 2022 season, Lee finished with 23 homers, a batting average of .349 and 113 RBIs. While an ankle injury shortened his 2023 season, Lee still managed to showcase his talent on the world stage during the World Baseball Classic, hitting .429 with two doubles and five RBIs for South Korea.
A giant move: While narrowly missing out on two-way superstar free agent Shohei Ohtani, San Francisco managed to secure Lee as a key addition to their roster. In an interview with the Associated Press, Giants President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi, expressed disappointment over losing out on Ohtani and Aaron Judge in the previous offseason.
“The proposal that was made was very comparable if not identical to what he wound up agreeing to,” he was quoted saying. “We offered what would have been the biggest contract in major league history. I’m guessing we weren’t the only team that did that. But wanted to show our aggressiveness and interest right out of the gate.”
Recruitment financial details: The deal with Lee reportedly involves a posting fee to the Kiwoom Heroes, with potential bonuses and escalators factored in. The agreement also prescribes that Lee can opt out of the deal after four years. Giants manager Bob Melvin has previously stated that finding and recruiting top Asian players is a priority for his team.