Korean-born Lee Jung-hoo is a good fit for the New York Yankees.”
“Cody Bellinger should be at the center of a free-agent battle between the Chicago Cubs, whom he likes very much, and the New York Yankees, who could use one or two outfielders,” the New York Post reported on Tuesday (ET).
The New York Yankees’ outfield this offseason was a disaster. First, free agent Billy McKinney batted just .227 (29-for-128) with six home runs, 14 doubles, 19 RBI, a .320 OPS and a .726 slugging percentage in 48 games this season. Another free agent outfielder, Franchy Cordero, was held to a .188 batting average with six homers, 13 RBIs, nine runs scored, and a .211 OPS of .689 in 24 games.
Harrison Vader was the lone bright spot in the first half, batting .240 (69-for-288) with seven home runs, 37 RBIs, 40 runs scored and a .278 OPS of .643 in 84 games, but he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds with free agency just around the corner.굿모닝토토 주소
Both McGinney and Cordero are free agents, with the latter likely to join a contender. The Yankees have been virtually without a starting outfielder other than Aaron Judge this season, and the loss of Judge to a toe ligament injury is a major blow. Giancarlo Stanton played the most games, 101, but mostly as a designated hitter.
In this situation, the Yankees’ top free agent targets are Cody Bellinger and Juan Soto. Bellinger was traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Chicago Cubs ahead of the 2023 season. The reason was that he was eligible for free agency after this season.
The Cubs narrowly missed out on a wild-card berth, but Bellinger did his part by batting .307 (153-for-499) with 26 home runs, 97 RBI, 95 runs scored, and a .356 OPS of .881 in 130 games. Bellinger, who became a free agent after the World Series, was ranked as the No. 1 free agent outfielder.
Kim’s teammate Soto is not eligible for free agency this season. However, he will be eligible for free agency after the 2024 season and is expected to make $30 million (approx. KRW 396 million) next season, so the San Diego Padres are looking at him as a trade chip to reduce the payroll (total team salary). Local media is also reporting that Soto is likely to be traded.
Soto has had his best season since being traded to San Diego in the middle of the 2022 season. He batted .275 (156-for-568) with 35 home runs, 109 RBI, 97 runs scored, a .410 OPS and a .929 slugging percentage, matching his career-high season. He showed off his “nerves of steel” by playing in all 162 games the team played.
Both Bellinger and Soto were named 2023 Silver Sluggers by Major League Baseball on Tuesday for their outstanding hitting. Bellinger beat out Ha-Sung Kim for the honor among National League utilities, while Soto joined Mookie Betts and Ronald Acuña Jr. as the No. 1 and No. 2 power hitters among National League outfielders.
However, while Bellinger and Soto have clear advantages at the plate, they also have disadvantages. Their price tag. According to a report by The Athletic, Bellinger could get up to six years and $162 million. Soto is also expected to make more than $300 million next season.
One option the Yankees could pursue in this situation is Jung-Hoo Lee. Lee is an international free agent who is on the verge of making it to the big leagues this offseason. After seven seasons with the KBO’s Kiwoom Heroes, Lee announced in a post after the season that he was looking to play in the major leagues.
In 2022, Lee reached a career high. Last season, Lee batted .349 (193-for-553) with 23 home runs and 113 RBIs in 142 games. He led the league in most hitting metrics, including batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, total bases, and RBI, and won five batting titles, including the Outfield Golden Glove and league MVP. Lee’s performance propelled Kiwoom to the Korean Series.
In the middle of the 2023 season, after declaring his intentions to play in the major leagues, Lee underwent surgery for an ACL injury in his left ankle, ending his season early. Despite this, Lee finished his seven-year KBO career with a solid .318 (105-for-330) batting average with six home runs and 45 RBIs in 86 games.
On August 8, MLB.com published a list of the “9 Most Attractive Free Agents of the Offseason” on its website, and Lee made the list alongside Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Lee is actually being pursued by many major league teams. The San Francisco Giants are the most active.
San Francisco’s scouting team has been watching Lee since spring training, and Giants general manager Pete Putilla watched Lee’s last KBO home game at Gocheok Sky Dome. CBS Sports in the United States also predicted on the 9th that “Lee will sign a 4+2 year, $90 million contract with San Francisco”.
However, the New York Post had a different opinion. ”The Yankees are in need of at least one outfielder or two outfielders,” the New York Post said, “and Korean-born Lee Jung-hoo and Kevin Kiermaier (Toronto Blue Jays) are good fits for the Yankees.”
The Yankees were one of the first teams to speculate on Lee’s next destination as soon as he announced his major league challenge. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman recently expressed his desire to acquire two left-handed hitting outfielders and a pitcher at a meeting of the 30 major league clubs in Scottsdale, Arizona.
San Francisco seemed to be the most likely destination, but the Yankees are also actively pursuing Lee, so his next move is likely to be a muddle. Baseball fans are eager to find out where Lee will end up in the major leagues.