The San Francisco Giants have made a splash in the free-agent market, signing South Korean outfielder Jung Hoo Lee to a historic six-year, $113 million contract, marking the largest deal for an Asian-born hitter entering Major League Baseball. The signing is a crucial move for the Giants, who have faced challenges in recent years with free agent pursuits.
Lee, a revered figure in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), is known as the “Grandson of the Wind” and follows in the footsteps of his father, Jong Beom Lee, considered the KBO’s best all-around player in the 1990s. The 25-year-old’s guarantee surpasses the previous record held by Masataka Yoshida, and the contract includes an opt-out option after the fourth season.
Initially linked to the San Diego Padres, Lee’s decision to join the Giants gained momentum after Shohei Ohtani’s signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Giants, who missed out on Ohtani, intensified their pursuit of Lee, landing a player with impressive credentials in the KBO.
Lee, a left-handed-hitting outfielder, boasts a remarkable career average of .340, demonstrating elite contact skills with a low strikeout rate. Despite a fractured left ankle that cut short his 2023 season, Lee’s track record includes a standout 2022 season, winning KBO MVP honors with a .349/.421/.575 line and 23 home runs.
The Giants envision Lee as a potential All-Star-caliber player, emphasizing his contact ability and speed, though opinions vary on his defensive position. Some see him as a solid center fielder, while others project him as a right fielder, placing greater emphasis on his batting prowess.
The signing of Lee comes after the Giants’ recent struggles in securing major free agents, making it a significant move for the team’s future. The six-year deal includes an opt-out clause, providing flexibility for both the player and the organization.
In addition to the signing of Lee, the Giants are navigating the MLB posting system, owing the Kiwoom Heroes an $18.725 million posting fee. The total investment in Lee, including the posting fee, amounts to $131.725 million. The Giants are also reportedly in pursuit of Japanese righty Yoshinobu Yamamoto, further signaling their commitment to strengthening the team for the upcoming season.