Lee Jeong-hoo (25, Kiwoom Heroes), who will advance to the Major League next season, has already been grouped into the same ‘level’ as major players. He was selected as a candidate for signing by the San Francisco Giants along with Shohei Ohtani (29, LA Angels), Cody Bellinger (28, Chicago Cubs), and Matt Chapman (30, Toronto Blue Jays), who are considered special free agents this winter.
The American newspaper ‘The Athletic’ published an article on the 26th (Korean time) regarding San Francisco’s strength reinforcement. Lee Jeong-hoo’s name appears here, and it catches the eye in that it is mentioned along with other proven free agent players in the major leagues such as Ohtani, Bellinger, and Chapman.
The media said, ‘There are more options for pitchers in the upcoming free agent market. He said, “San Francisco is also likely to try to recruit some of these players,” adding that he will be interested in special free agent pitchers such as Japan’s top pitchers Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Olix Buffaloes) and Sonny Gray (Minnesota Twins).
He continued, ‘Why would San Francisco want to spend a lot of money on recruiting a pitcher when upgrading their batting lineup appears to be a higher priority? It’s a question of supply and demand. There are not many hitters in the free agent market who can consistently play in the lineup with star power. They are center fielder Bellinger, third baseman Chapman, and last year’s KBO MVP and quick-footed 25-year-old center fielder Lee Jeong-hoo. “Scott Boras is the agent for all three free agent players,” he explained, adding, “Of course, there is Ohtani as well.”
Furthermore, the media said, ‘Even if San Francisco signs one of these players, we know that signing one will not solve the problem. Therefore, San Francisco is expected to actively explore trades to recruit hitters with young pitching resources,’ he added.
This winter’s free agent market is lacking in special hitters compared to previous years. Ohtani, who will not be able to pitch as a pitcher next season due to elbow surgery, but is likely to be the American League’s home run leader this year (44), Bellinger, the 2019 National League MVP with a total of 178 home runs, and Chapman, with a total of 153 home runs, are considered big candidates. It is significant in that Lee Jeong-hoo’s name was mentioned along with others.
Lee Jeong-hoo performed somewhat poorly this season with a batting average of .319 in 85 games (105 hits in 329 at-bats), 6 home runs, 45 RBIs, and an OPS of .863. His batting slump at the beginning of the season lasted for quite some time, and he underwent ankle surgery after the game against Sajik Lotte on July 22, putting him out for the season. Although he is in the midst of three months of rehabilitation, America’s interest in Lee Jeong-hoo continues. Although his performance this year is disappointing, he has the track record he has accumulated over the previous six years, and his young age of 25 still makes him attractive. 안전놀이터
The American media is linking the San Diego Padres and New York Yankees to Lee Jung-hoo, but San Francisco is also one of the teams that cannot be left out. San Francisco, which visited the stadium every day and filmed Lee Jeong-hoo’s batting performance during spring training in Arizona last February, continued to show interest even after the season opened, with a high-ranking official coming to Korea and directly observing the game.
San Francisco, which ranks third in the National League West Division with 78 wins and 80 losses (a winning percentage of .494) this year and is certain to be eliminated from the postseason, is in dire need of strengthening its batting lineup. They are ranked 27th in team batting average (.237) and 25th in OPS (.700). Except for Wilmer Flores (batting average of .284, 22 home runs, 457 RBI, OPS of .863), there is no hitter with an OPS of .800 or higher. Other than Michael Conforto (batting average of .243, 15 home runs, 58 RBI, .728 OPS), there is no clear starting outfielder. If Lee Jeong-hoo goes, it could be a great boost to the batting lineup.