After seven great years in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), superstar outfielder Jung Hoo Lee will make the jump to Major League Baseball next year. Not too long after being posted by the Kiwoom Heroes, Lee signs a deal with the San Francisco Giants for six years and $113 million. Evaluators view Lee as an all-around star with that contributes on both sides of the ball.
Outfielder Jung Hoo Lee’s deal with the San Francisco Giants — six years, $113 million, an opt-out after four seasons — is a monster deal and finally lands the Giants a big-time free agent after missing on Shohei Ohtani, Aaron Judge and others. @JonHeyman was on the news.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 12, 2023
Jung Hoo Lee Is Off to the Bay
What to Expect from Lee
Offensively, Lee features great bat-to-ball skills with a reputation as a “bad ball hitter”. He is a hitter that’s not afraid to expand the zone and do damage on seemingly un-hittable pitches. In his KBO career, which began in 2017 at age 18, Lee has a slash line of .340/.407/.491. He never hit below .300 or produced an OBP below .386 in any season of his career.
While a fractured ankle cut Lee’s 2023 season short, he put on a show on during last spring’s World Baseball Classic. Lee collected six hits in 14 at-bats with five RBI, four runs, two walks and one strikeout. Despite the small sample, Lee impressed many during the tournament.
Perhaps the one weakness in his offensive profile is his power. However, Lee’s best season, his 2022 MVP-winning campaign, conceded with his best power production. That year, Lee hit 23 home runs, 10 triples, drove in 113, and produced a .996 OPS. It’s not unfair to project Lee hitting for more power as he grows and gets stronger in his mid-to-late 20’s.
Former KBO MVP Jung Hoo Lee has reportedly been posted by the Kiwoom Heroes.
Where will the 25-year-old outfielder land? pic.twitter.com/Kyb4lXD0Ri
— MLB (@MLB) December 4, 2023
Defensively, Lee possesses great speed that allows him to cover a lot of ground in the outfield. Evaluators view him as a defender with plus range that takes good routes. Additionally, Lee has an above average arm that has let him record 28 assists since 2020 (436 games). Despite his tools, some evaluators disagree on whether Lee should play center or a corner outfield spot.
Many evaluators expect Lee’s skills and tools to translate to the game’s best competition. However, he is a potentially risky investment because he will be way less valuable if he doesn’t develop much power and has to move to a corner outfield spot.
At just 25, Lee was one of the youngest position players available on the free agent market. Despite this, Lee has somewhat gone under the radar thanks to the several big name foreign players available this offseason. While his contract is notable for someone without major league experience, Lee signing with the Giants might end up one of the better deals of the winter.
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