Will Kiwoom Heroes Lee Jeong-hoo (25) meet LA Angels Otani Shohei (29) in the San Francisco Giants?
MLB.com, the official Major League Baseball media, said on the 27th (Korean time), “Ohtani, a star who doubles as a pitcher, will not be able to play as a pitcher until 2025 after undergoing surgery on his right elbow, but he will be the biggest player in the offseason. “Ohtani, who is scheduled to return as a hitter next season, will receive a huge contract considering the success he has had over the past three seasons with the Angels,” he said, referring to Ohtani’s offseason activities.
This season, Ohtani recorded a batting average of .304 (151 hits in 497 at bats) in 135 games as a batter, 44 home runs, 95 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.066, and as a pitcher, he recorded 10 wins, 5 losses, and an average ERA of 3.14 in 23 games (132 innings). Even though the season ended early due to injury, he is considered the biggest free agent and is expected to sign a contract worth over 500 million dollars (about 676.8 billion won).
MLB.com said, “San Francisco has sufficient financial capacity to recruit Ohtani. However, it may be difficult for San Francisco to recruit Ohtani as they have not advanced to the postseason in six of the last seven years. If Ohtani goes to another team, San Francisco may turn to Japanese right-handed pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix) and Korean outfielder Lee Jeong-hoo. “San Francisco scouted both players intensively,” he explained.
Yamamoto is the best ace in Japan who has achieved outstanding results this season with 16 wins, 6 losses, and an average ERA of 1.21 in 23 games (164 innings). From 2021 to 2023, he became the first pitcher in Japanese professional baseball to win four awards (multiple wins, earned run average, strikeouts, and winning percentage) for three consecutive years. Due to injury, Lee Jung-hoo only recorded a batting average of .318 in 86 games this season (105 hits in 330 at-bats), 6 home runs, 45 RBI, and an OPS of .861, but he won five batting awards last season (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, RBI, most hits). He is the best hitter in Korea who won the league MVP award.
San Francisco is fully prepared to target the Asian market ahead of this winter. President Farhan Zaidi visited Japan and personally checked Yamamoto’s pitching when he pitched in Game 1 of the Climax Series Final Stage, and general manager Pete Putilla flew to Korea and watched Lee Jeong-hoo’s final at-bat for Kiwoom. President Zaidi was confident, “We are definitely preparing one step ahead of what may happen in the upcoming offseason.”
On the 27th, American media New York Post reporter John Heyman selected Texas, San Francisco, and the Dodgers as the most likely teams to recruit Ohtani this winter. Regarding San Francisco, “They failed to land Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees), Bryce Harper (Philadelphia) and Aaron Judge (Yankees) and are clearly desperate for a big star. “There is one problem, and that is whether Ohtani is willing to sign a contract with a team whose home stadium (Oracle Park) is difficult for left-handed hitters.”
Otani is expected to receive a contract worth at least $500 million. If San Francisco succeeds in recruiting Ohtani, it may not be easy to recruit another player. In particular, it is realistically difficult to recruit Yamamoto, whose contract is expected to be worth over 100 million dollars (about 135.4 billion won).
However, in the case of Lee Jeong-hoo, if the competition to recruit him is not hot, San Francisco has plenty of opportunities. If Lee Jeong-hoo’s contract size is decided at a similar level to Kim Ha-seong (San Diego, 4-year guaranteed $28 million), San Francisco could well consider recruiting Lee Jeong-hoo following Ohtani.
San Francisco expressed such interest that the general manager personally came to watch Lee Jeong-hoo’s final home game. The American media outlet The Athletic said on the 20th, “This move shows how seriously San Francisco takes the best international free agent players.” Next, regarding coach Bob Melvin, whom San Francisco recently hired from San Diego, “Coach Melvin has built a solid relationship with Ha-seong Kim. “Ha-seong Kim played with Jeong-hoo Lee at Kiwoom and we are still close friends,” he said, adding that the appointment of coach Melvin would be helpful in recruiting Jeong-hoo Lee.스포츠토토
Fans’ expectations and interest are high as to whether San Francisco, which has shown that it sincerely wants Lee Jung-hoo, will be able to recruit both Ohtani and Lee Jung-hoo, the largest free agents.