Major League Baseball’s interest in Kiwoom Heroes’ Lee Jung-hoo (25) is growing.
The American media outlet The Athletic published an article on the 12th (KST) answering questions from New York Yankees fans. The first question was whether the Yankees would try to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix), the best ace in Nippon Professional Baseball, and Lee Jung-hoo, the best hitter in Korea.
Lee Jung-hoo is a specialty hitter who has batted .344 (3476-for-1181) with 65 home runs, 515 RBIs, and an OPS of .898 in 884 career KBO games. Last season, he batted .349 (193-for-553) with 23 home runs, 113 RBIs and a .996 OPS in 142 games, winning five batting titles (batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs scored and RBIs) and earning league MVP honors. This season, despite an early-season slump and a mid-season injury that kept him out of the lineup, he finished with a respectable 86 games, batting 3-for-105 (330 at-bats) with six home runs, 45 RBI, and an OPS of .861. After the season, he will be posted to the major leagues.
The Athletic writes, “Speaking of Lee, the Yankees are definitely on the market for him. The Yankees have been scouting Lee this season. He was ranked 27th in this year’s free agent rankings by Jim Borden of The Athletic,” emphasizing that the Yankees are definitely interested in Lee.
“Lee’s season ended early with an ankle injury,” The Athletic noted, “but he batted .301 with six home runs and 45 RBIs in 86 games. Major league teams are taking a look at him with interest because he has shown solid outfield defense and has drawn more walks (383) than strikeouts (304) in his career.” The Athletic explained that major league teams are evaluating him positively.
On the other hand, Lee does have a weakness. There are still questions about his ability to hit a satisfactory number of home runs in the major leagues. “He hit 23 home runs last year, but it’s unlikely he’ll be able to hit a lot of them,” said The Athletic, but “given his beautiful swing and Yankee Stadium’s short right field wall, he could hit more home runs than you think.”스포츠토토
As for whether the Yankees will try to sign Lee, the outlet said, “I think the Yankees will try to sign Lee. However, San Diego and San Francisco, where fellow Korean player Kim Ha-seong plays, are also being linked to Lee.” San Diego has been active in scouting Korean players, and San Francisco’s general manager Pete Putilla recently traveled to Seoul’s Gocheok Sky Dome to watch Lee’s training and last at-bat in Korea.
“I don’t really know any of the major league teams,” Lee said of his journey to the majors. I only know the Dodgers and Yankees, which everyone knows. I think I’ll find out once I start the posting process. I think my agent will do a good job.”
Regarding San Diego, where Kim plays, Lee was coy, saying, “(Kim) has only one year left, so I don’t know, and the major leagues are very active in trades, so if his value increases, he might be traded. I don’t know what will happen.”
As Lee finishes his last at-bat in Korea and prepares to enter the major leagues, American and Korean baseball fans are eagerly anticipating what kind of contract he will sign.