Lee Jung-hoo’s (25-Keum Heroes) time is coming. South Korea’s best players are going places, and Lee Jung-hoo is proving it once again.
Global sports outlet ESPN released its rankings of Major League Baseball (MLB) free agents this offseason on Tuesday (April 10), along with projected contract sizes. Jung-hoo Lee’s projected five-year, $63 million (KRW83.1 billion) contract ranks 14th overall.
“He’s a solid enough player that most teams would consider him a starter,” ESPN wrote, “and like Yamamoto, he’s a young player.”
Lee began his professional career in the KBO in 2017, and his .340 career batting average over seven years has made him the all-time leader in the league.
He won the outfield Golden Glove for five consecutive years, starting with the Rookie of the Year award in his debut season and continuing to improve each year, culminating in a .349 batting average, 23 home runs, 113 RBIs, and a .996 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) last year that earned him Most Valuable Player (MVP) honors. 보스토토 주소
Injuries limited him to just 86 games this season, but he came back at the end of the season to put those concerns to rest, and it’s safe to say that the jury was out on Lee before the season. Now it was time to knock on the big league door.
Even though he’s classified as a free agent, Lee will make his way to the big leagues through a closed competitive bidding (posting) system. In the past, the team with the highest posting fee would negotiate exclusively with the player, but in 2018, the Korea-U.S. Free Agent Agreement was revised and the posting fee now varies depending on the size of the contract. If the guaranteed amount exceeds $50 million, the posting fee is set at 20% of $25 million ($5 million), 17.5% of $25 million to $50 million ($4.37 million), and 15% of all amounts over $50 million.
ESPN, which projected $63 million over five years, said it would “pay a posting fee of just over $11 million.”
The size of the deal draws comparisons to Lee’s immediate predecessor, Ha-Sung Kim (San Diego Padres), who first made the jump to the big leagues three years ago. Kim signed a four-year, $28 million (36.9 billion won) contract with San Diego at the time.
Kim had a career-high season in 2020 with a .306 batting average, 30 home runs, and 109 RBIs, but he was already considered one of the best shortstops in Korea. Much like Kang Jeong-ho, who had a short but successful stint with the team, Kim quickly integrated into the team and raised his stock. This season, he even won a Gold Glove for utility. It’s the first Asian honor for an infielder.