The SF Giants and Yankees are expected to pursue the star KBO outfielder
The SF Giants and New York Yankees are competing for the best center fielder on the market. but, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi Expect that both teams will also have Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) star Jung Ho Lee in the mix.
Giants President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi He indicated earlier in the offseason that adding a pure center would be a top priority. Lee wasn’t explicitly listed as a potential target, but the KBO outfielder certainly checks the box of a reliable outfielder.
Champions Kiwoom is expected to deploy the left-handed bat in the coming days as he will be free to negotiate with all 30 teams. The team that ends up signing him will owe the Champions a publishing fee based on the contract amount.
Lee had a very solid career in the KBO, posting a .340/.407/.491 line with a 9.7 walk rate, a 7.7 percent strikeout rate, and a .151 ISO across seven seasons. He has excellent contact skills and sprays the ball all over the field, but he doesn’t hit with much power. Giants hitters recorded a 24.5 percent strikeout rate in 2023, so there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to putting the ball in play.
The left-handed bat had a strong 2023 campaign posting an .860 OPS with six home runs in 387 plate appearances. He finished the year on the injured list after undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a broken ankle, but is expected to be ready by spring training.
The seven-year veteran spent the bulk of his time at center field and was highly regarded at the position, earning five Gold Glove Awards. He has the speed to stay in the middle of the field long-term, so he could tick an important box for the Giants.
MLB Trade Rumors expects Lee to receive a five-year, $50 million deal this winter. This could be a good deal if his offensive production translates to the majors, but one way or another, he should be an above-average outfielder who puts the ball in play more often.
Cody Bellinger is the best quarterback on the market and Lee is likely the second best option. After that, the remaining alternatives are more temporary options than long-term solutions. This list includes Michael Taylor, Kevin KirmayerAnd Harrison Bader. The Giants are casting a wide net this winter as they seek to bolster a roster that won just 80 games in 2023, but that’s one area that needs to be upgraded in free agency.