Interest in “genius hitter” Lee Jung-hoo (25, Kiwoom Heroes) is growing as he looks to break into the American Major League Baseball this winter. The general manager of the San Francisco Giants, one of the favorites to sign him, has spoken highly of him and hasn’t denied the interest. In fact, they have declared a competition to sign Lee.
On Nov. 6 (KST), “Giants Talk,” a podcast run by NBC Sports Bay Area, released an interview with San Francisco President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi. During the one-on-one interview, reporter Alex Pavlovich asked Zaidi how much interest he had in Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix Buffaloes) and Korean outfielder Jung-Hoo Lee, who will be available in free agency this winter.
“They’re both really good players,” Zaidi said. For Lee, I think the success of his former Korean teammate Kim Ha-Sung with the San Diego Padres will raise his profile. We’ve been to Korea many times and learned a lot about Lee. He missed a lot of time in the second half due to injury, but we expect him to be healthy.”
The Giants got a close-up look at Lee in February when they traveled to the Kiwoom National Team camp in Arizona for the World Baseball Classic (WBC). After the season opened, the organization continued its scouting of Lee by traveling to South Korea. The team needed to reinforce the batting lineup and had a weak outfield, so they were considered to be highly interested in Lee, which Zaidi also admitted in the interview.
On the 29th of last month, ‘The Athletic’ reported that San Francisco is looking for a young, athletic outfielder in the offseason, saying, “Center fielder Cody Bellinger (Chicago Cubs) and 25-year-old center fielder Lee Jung-hoo, who won the KBO MVP last year, are the few players San Francisco wants in the free agent market. Lee, who is in his mid-20s and has speed, is exactly the type of player San Francisco needs.
It’s worth noting that Zaidi also mentioned Kim Ha-seong. Knowing that the two players played together for four years in Kiwoom from 2017 to 2020, Zaidi believes that Kim’s success in the major leagues will have a positive impact on Lee Jung-hoo, even though they play different positions and come from the same KBO league.
Along with Lee Jung-hoo, Zaidi also spoke about Japan’s top pitcher Yamamoto, saying, “He is one of the best starting pitchers in the world. It sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s not.” “Both Yamamoto and Lee will attract interest from major league teams. I think they’ll be posted in the next few months, and we’re working on it,” he said, adding that the team is preparing to compete for them.
If San Francisco does land Lee, it’s likely to be a big, long-term deal. “We want to increase the stability of players who are going to be with us for a long time,” Zaidi said, hinting at an aggressive bet: “If there’s a player that comes along that we need on the outfield and we have an opportunity to acquire him, we’ll be very open to it.”
San Francisco is a team in desperate need of change. The Giants are 79-83 (.488 winning percentage) this year, good for fourth place in the National League West, and have missed fall ball for the second straight year. After being eliminated from the postseason on March 30, the team fired manager Gabe Kapler, who had one more year left on his contract, and began a full-scale rebuild.
The pitching wasn’t bad this year, ranking 11th in ERA (4.02) among 30 clubs, but the offense was too weak, ranking 28th in team batting average (.235) and 26th in OPS (.695). They also ranked 30th in team stolen bases (57), and they haven’t kept up with changes in league rules, such as increased base sizes. With his accuracy, vision, and mobility, it’s hard not to be drawn to Lee.스포츠토토
Meanwhile, Major League Baseball Trade Rumors (MLBTR) in the U.S., which published Zaidi’s interview, also predicted on the same day that “Lee doesn’t have the name recognition of Yamamoto, and his price tag is expected to be much lower, but he could get a good deal in an offseason where premium free agents are scarce”.
“In addition to his hitting potential, Jung-Hoo Lee has a variety of other skills that will make him very interesting. If the Giants were to sign Lee as their new starting center fielder, Mike Yastrzemski or Austin Slater would be the corner outfielders. At this point, San Francisco’s starting center fielder is expected to be former top prospect Luis Matos, but the addition of Lee would make it easier for him to adjust to the big leagues in a part-time role.