“Lee Jung-hoo has good contact ability, can play right field”
Major League Baseball Trade Rumors (MLBTR), which focuses on major league player transfers, mentioned Lee Jung-hoo in an article titled “Seattle Mariners looking for a hitter with good contact” on April 8 (KST).
Lee, who won the regular season MVP title last year with five batting titles (batting average, most hits, RBIs, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage), decided to enter the major leagues through the posting system after the 2023 season through discussions with the Kiwoom Heroes after the season ended. He then teamed up with Scott Boras, aka “The Devil’s Agent,” to prepare him for the big leagues.토토사이트
Despite the team’s lackluster performance, Lee’s impressive performance for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) team caught the eye of big league scouts. However, a change in his batting form to produce long balls with the major leagues in mind caught up with him early in the KBO regular season.
Lee struggled mightily in the month of April, batting just .218. As his slump prolonged, Lee shifted his focus to regaining his old form and regaining his hitting touch. But then another setback came, this time an injury. Lee suffered an ankle injury against the Sasik Lotte Giants in late July that landed him on the operating table and ended his season with a .318 batting average in 105 at-bats in 86 games.
Despite his tumultuous year, which has been plagued by slumps and injuries, Lee has amassed some impressive cumulative stats, and major league clubs have been interested in him. Local media in the U.S. have been linking Lee to the New York Yankees, and San Francisco Giants general manager Pete Putilla even visited the Gotham SkyDome to watch Lee train. It was also reported that the San Diego Padres, where Kim Ha-seong plays, were also interested in Lee.
Now that the Major League Baseball has concluded its schedule and the Stobrigue has begun, local media coverage of Lee has increased significantly. For now, the reviews are not bad. The lack of notable hitters in this year’s free agency market is working in his favor. While the American media and major league clubs have questions about KBO hitters, his cumulative stats and international performance have been favorably reviewed.
The expected contract size is not small. Jim Britton of ‘The Athletic’ predicts a four-year, $56 million contract, while ‘MLBTR’ predicts a five-year, $50 million contract. Considering that Kim Ha-seong’s contract with San Diego is worth up to $39 million (approx. KRW 51.1 billion), the valuation of Lee Jung-hoo is good despite the fact that he hasn’t shown anything in the major leagues yet.
Currently, the Yankees and San Francisco are the only teams that have expressed interest in Lee. Jim Bowden, the former general manager of the Washington Nationals, even made a confident prediction that the Giants would sign Lee on August 8. Of course, there are likely to be other teams that have not yet surfaced. Seattle has been mentioned.
Seattle did not offer a $20.32 million qualifying offer (QO) to free-agent-eligible “former teammate of Hyun-jin Ryu” Teoscar Hernandez, but MLBTR reported that the Mariners would be interested in him. “President of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto mentioned some of his offseason goals, including improving his batters’ ability to make contact,” the outlet said.
“When asked by ‘MLB.com’s’ John Morosi, ‘What’s the biggest need for the organization,’ Dipoto said, ‘Adding contact to our lineup,’” MLBTR continued, explaining that the desire to improve contact is related to Seattle’s surprising decision not to offer Hernandez a QO. Hernandez played in 160 games for Seattle this year, batting .253 with 26 homers and 93 RBIs for a .741 OPS.
As MLBTR notes, “Seattle hitters have struggled mightily with swinging at balls in play. Their team batting average was .242, 22nd in the majors, while their strikeouts were second only to the Minnesota Twins, their on-base percentage was 15th, and their slugging percentage was 16th. Hernandez struck out 211 times, second on the team. He was a power-oriented player, and Seattle seems to be moving away from that style.”
MLBTR reported that Seattle’s top candidate to fill the void left by Hernandez’s departure is Luerdes Gurriel Jr. but Lee could also be an option. “The left-handed Gurriel Jr. would push Gerard Kellnick to right field,” the outlet wrote, “while KBO star Lee Jung-hoo is a lefty, he can also play right field with his ability to make good contact.”
As free agents are deciding whether or not to stay with their original clubs, Lee’s value is increasing day by day. Seattle is also interested in signing Shohei Ohtani, so they have the money. Clearly, if they are looking to add a player with good contact skills, they could be a potential destination for Lee.