Major League Baseball’s World Series (WS) is over, and it’s time for the official start of the free agency period. Qualifying offers (QOs) are being handed out, accepted, and rejected, and the “offseason” is slowly heating up. In particular, players who will move from Asia to the United States are in the spotlight this year. And for Korean baseball fans, Lee Jung-hoo’s move is the biggest topic of conversation.
After winning five batting titles last year and being named the MVP of the regular season for the first time in his career, Lee officially entered the big leagues and teamed up with Scott Boras, who is widely known as the Devil’s Agent. Despite missing the entire season due to an ankle injury in July of this year, local media and clubs have been very interested in Lee.
Outside of Shohei Ohtani, there aren’t many “specialty” players on the major league free agent market this year. It’s unfortunate that Jung-Hoo Lee doesn’t fall into that category, but that’s what makes him so highly regarded and valued by the local media. This makes him a very attractive card for teams that need to bolster their lineup.
Lee’s post will come a little later than other players in Nippon Professional Baseball. The Korean Series (KS) is not over yet. MLB Network’s John Morosi predicts that Lee will post after Thanksgiving in the U.S. (Nov. 24-27), while The Athletic reports that “the 30-day window won’t open for several weeks as he recovers from a fractured ankle suffered in July.”
Currently, Lee is a hot commodity. Currently, the general managers of 30 major league clubs are meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Lee’s American agent, Boras, has already started to make sales. In an interview with local media on the 9th (KST), Boras emphasized the value of Lee Jung-hoo and revealed that he has already received inquiries from half of the major league clubs.
Currently, the San Francisco Giants are the most talked about team. Giants general manager Pete Putilla traveled to Gotham SkyDome to watch Lee during the season, and president Farhan Zaidi hinted at the possibility of signing Lee. “San Francisco still plans to prioritize signing a plus middle infielder with Cody Bellinger, the top option in free agency, and KBO star Lee Jung-hoo,” The Athletic reported on Sept. 9.굿모닝토토
In addition to the Giants, MLB.com listed 13 teams as possible destinations for Lee, including the Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Currently, The Athletic’s Jim Britton is projecting a four-year, $56 million (KRW 734 million) deal, Major League Baseball Trade Rumors (MLBTR) is projecting a five-year, $50 million (KRW 65.5 billion) deal, and CBS Sports is projecting a six-year, $90 million (KRW 11.8 billion) deal with an opt-out with San Francisco.
While San Francisco has been active, the Yankees, who were among the first favorites to sign Lee, seem to have made up their minds. The Yankees currently have a number of “star players” on their roster, but the depth outside of them is not as strong. In particular, in the outfield, it is safe to say that there are no players except for ’62 home run’ Aaron Judge. Therefore, the Yankees are aiming to strengthen two outfielders in the offseason.
“The Yankees are looking for two outfielders in left field and center field and a pitcher,” the New York Post reported on April 9. The Yankees went 82-80 this year, finishing fourth in the American League East and missing the postseason. It was a “disgrace” for the Yankees. Looking to rebound, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman currently has a lefty in mind for the outfield, according to the media.
The New York Post reports that the Yankees will be in the running for Cody Bellinger, writing, “Left-handed hitting center fielders include Kevin Kiermaier and Lee Jeong-hoo, who will be posted in the KBO. “Jason Dominguez (Tommy John surgery) will be out until at least June,” the source said, noting that they have options to complete the outfield next to Jersey.
“The Yankees know what Kiermeyer can do, having faced him in the American League East for the past decade. Lee, on the other hand, can be a bit of a mystery.” “But Boras is confident that the 25-year-old’s success in South Korea can translate to the major leagues.”
At this point, San Francisco and the Yankees have been the most aggressive in their pursuit, but it’s not out of the question that another team could emerge after this post goes live. According to The Athletic, Lee will soon hold three weeks of open workouts for major league teams at Boras Corporation’s training center in Orange County, California. As more competitors emerge after watching the training, Lee’s price tag will naturally skyrocket.