MLB.com published an article titled “KBO and NPB stars soon to be seen in the majors” on April 4 (KST), highlighting players who will be making their way to the big leagues through free agency and the posting system.
Especially after the San Diego Padres’ Ha-Sung Kim had a career-high season in his third year in the big leagues, hitting .260 with 17 home runs, 75 RBIs, 84 runs scored, 38 stolen bases, and a .749 OPS in 152 games, earning him Silver Slugger and Gold Glove finalist honors as the National League’s second baseman.굿모닝토토 도메인
It’s no exaggeration to say that Lee Jung-hoo is the best hitter in the KBO. In his rookie season, he pounded out 179 hits and hit .329 to win the Rookie of the Year title. Every year since then, he has improved his batting average by more than three percent, culminating last season when he hit .349 with 23 home runs, 113 RBIs, 85 runs scored, and a .996 OPS in 142 games, earning him his first regular-season MVP award and five batting titles (batting average, hits, RBIs, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage).
After his career-high season, Lee spoke with Kiwoom Heroes and expressed his desire to play in the major leagues after the 2023 season, and he teamed up with Scott Boras, aka “The Devil’s Agent,” to prepare him for the major leagues. This year, he was sidelined by injury, but still managed to hit .318 with 105 hits, six home runs, and a .318 batting average in 86 games.
Major league teams are very interested in Lee. The New York Yankees are currently the most heavily linked to Lee, while San Francisco Giants general manager Pete Putilla has been outspoken in his interest, traveling to Gocheok SkyDome to watch Lee practice despite the fact that he has been sidelined with an injury.
MLB.com analyzed Lee in a piece that highlighted players from South Korea and Japan who are likely headed to the major leagues. “Considering the dearth of free agent-eligible players this offseason, Lee is an intriguing option for major league teams,” the outlet wrote, noting that he played only 86 games due to an ankle injury in the middle of the season, but had an OPS of .860.
MLB.com continued, “Lee has played primarily in the middle infield in the KBO. He hit a career-high 23 home runs in the 2022 season and represented South Korea in high-level international tournaments, including the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC).” “Jung-hoo is similar to Ender Inciate, who played for the Atlanta Braves and won three Gold Gloves in 2016 and 2017.”
Inciarte, who debuted with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014 and played for Atlanta and this year’s New York Mets, has played in 868 games over nine major league seasons, hitting .280 with 42 home runs, 263 RBIs, 447 runs scored and 45 stolen bases in 875 at-bats and a .715 OPS. He is considered one of the best switch-hitters in the majors, especially in 2017, when he drove in 201 runs.
According to MLB.com, “The Kiwoom announced in January that they would post Lee in January. However, since the KBO is in the midst of the postseason, the start of Lee’s posting is about two weeks away,” adding that “the St. Louis Cardinals, Yankees, San Diego, and San Francisco are among the clubs expected to look for an impact outfielder this offseason”.
As MLB.com notes, given the timing of the Korean Series, it’s likely that Lee will be posted in about two weeks and will receive offers from major league clubs.