“If you treat him like a star, he’ll sign” San Francisco flies in for Lee Jung-hoo’s farewell game, but will it change his mind?
The San Francisco Giants have expressed interest in Lee Jung-hoo, 25, as he looks to break into the major leagues next season.
Lee is one of the best hitters in the KBO, batting .344 (3476-for-1181) with 65 home runs, 515 RBIs and an .898 OPS in 884 career games. Last season, he batted .344 (193-for-553) with 23 home runs, 113 RBIs, and a .996 OPS in 142 games, winning five batting titles (batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, RBIs, and runs scored) and the league MVP.
After announcing his intentions to play in the major leagues in a post after the end of last season, Lee’s early-season struggles and late-season injuries limited him to 86 games (3-for-105 in 330 at-bats) with six home runs, 45 RBIs, and an .861 OPS. But that didn’t deter major league teams from pursuing him.
San Francisco, in particular, seems to be paying a lot of attention to Lee. The Athletic reported on November 20 (KST) that “San Francisco wants to hire a new manager by the time the free agency market opens in early November. But with the process of identifying a finalist stalled, president Farhan Zaidi traveled to Japan to scope out free agents, where he watched Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto pitch in Game 1 of the final stage of the Climax Series. Around the same time, general manager Pete Putilla flew to South Korea to attend Lee Jung-hoo’s final game. These moves underscore how strongly San Francisco intends to pursue two top international free agents.”
Outside of Cody Bellinger (Cubs), 온라인카지노 there aren’t many notable free agents in the upcoming winter free agency market. Naturally, Major League Baseball teams are interested in Lee.
The Athletic reports, “According to a person familiar with the South Korean market, Lee will prefer a team that can promise him a starting spot and give him time to work through any slumps. The 25-year-old center fielder, who has hit .340 in his career, has excellent ball skills and is considered one of the best players in the KBO. He had his best season in 2022, hitting .344 with 23 home runs and 66 doubles. He struck out 32 times in 553 at-bats, which is ridiculously low,” said Lee in a positive analysis of Lee Jung-hoo.
Lee was injured on July 22 against Lotte and didn’t return to 100 percent until the end of the season. However, in the final home game against Samsung on July 10, he batted for the last time to say goodbye to his fans, and said goodbye to them after the game. Futilla, who visited the Gocheok Dome on July 7 to watch Lee, also visited the Gocheok Dome for the game and watched Lee’s last at-bat and farewell ceremony.
The Athletic reported, “An agent who represents KBO players said, ‘It’s impressive. He obviously didn’t come just to watch Lee’s at-bat. But I think this is something that will move him. Lee is a superstar here. The team that’s going to get him is going to be one of the teams that treats him like a star player,” said the agent, who believes San Francisco’s sincerity will help them land Lee.
San Francisco is currently without a head coach after Gabe Kapler left the organization. The Athletic reports that San Francisco could target Bob Melvin, who is currently the head coach in San Diego. For now, San Diego is keeping Melvin until 2024.
Melvin is no stranger to Asian players. He worked with Ichiro Suzuki as Seattle’s head coach from 2003 to 2004, and since taking over in San Diego last year, he has developed good relationships with Darvish Yu and Ha Sung Kim.
The Athletic said, “Melvin has built a strong relationship with Kim Ha Sung. He played with Lee at Kiwoom and is still a close friend,” said The Athletic, adding that Melvin’s relationship with Lee could help him recruit Lee if he becomes the manager of San Francisco. Melvin could be an even more attractive option for Lee because he has consistently given him opportunities to reach his full potential, even when he struggled a bit in the majors.
It will be interesting to see if San Francisco, which has been moving quickly even before the free agency market opens, can be the final winner in the battle for Lee.