Kiwoom Heroes’ Lee Jung-hoo is on his way to the major leagues, and the interest from major league teams is already heating up.
According to FOX Sports’ 2024 free agent power rankings, Lee was ranked fourth overall. “If Lee hadn’t suffered an ankle injury this season, the news of his major league challenge would have been even more intriguing,” the publication said. “He has been a successful player in South Korea and is considered a more talented prospect than the San Diego Padres’ Ha-Sung Kim.” “At just 25 years old, there will be plenty of teams that will want to take a chance on him.”
Photo via FOX Sports
Like FOX Sports’ assessment, many other outlets have spoken favorably about Lee’s ability and value. On July 7, MLB.com also ranked Lee 14th overall in its free agent power rankings, indicating the growing interest in Lee.레모나토토 도메인
On the same day, MLB Trade Rumors predicted the size of Lee’s expected free agent contract. “Lee will sign a five-year, $50 million deal,” MLB Trade Rumors predicted. In their free agent power rankings, Lee was ranked 15th overall.
‘The Athletic’ predicted four years and $56 million, well over $50 million. Given that “best friend” Kim Ha-seong signed a 4+1 year, $39 million (KRW 510 million) deal with San Diego for the 2021 season, with $28 million (KRW 366 million) guaranteed, Lee is likely to get up to double that amount.
Lee didn’t play as many games this season as he had in previous years due to a mid-season injury, but he still managed to put up decent numbers. He batted .318 with 105 hits, six home runs, 45 RBIs, and an OPS of .861 in 86 games this season.
Kiwoom’s “signature hitter” Lee Jung-hoo went 4-for-4, pushing his batting average over .300 for the first time this season. In this photo, Kiwoom’s Lee Jung-hoo talks with his father, LG’s first base coach Lee Jong-beom, during a game between the LG Twins and Kiwoom Heroes on Aug. 8. (SEOUL, South Korea)
Lee is arguably the best hitter in the KBO, winning the regular season MVP last season after leading the league in five categories, including batting average, hits, RBIs, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. In seven seasons since turning pro in 2017, Lee has hit .340 with 65 home runs, 515 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.898.
The San Francisco Giants have been mentioned as a possible destination for Lee. On Feb. 2, MLB.com reported that San Francisco was the next destination for Lee.
“The Giants are expected to spend the most money on Lee among free agents outside of Ohtani, Cody Bellinger and Matt Chapman,” the publication wrote.
The relationship between Lee and the Giants began on March 10, when Giants general manager Pete Putilla visited Lee at Kodak Stadium. He watched, applauded, and showed interest in Lee as he came in as a pinch-hitter after returning from injury and watched him train before the game.
On the same day, Sports Illustrated (SI) published a list of “5 Free Agents Who Will Fuse in San Francisco,” and Lee was one of the five, along with Japanese pitching great Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Lee will begin his big league journey through the posting system in late November. According to MLB Network, “Lee is expected to be posted later this month. It will be in full swing after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday (the fourth Thursday in November),” and “Lee will apply for posting after the Korean Series in the KBO.”