FA signings expected to ‘double’ in size
Kim Ha-seong (28-San Diego Padres) has paved the way. There are question marks about Lee Jung-hoo (25-Kiwoom Heroes), who is on the verge of breaking into the major leagues, but Kim’s success story removes some of the anxiety. There are even predictions that he will earn twice as much as Kim did three years ago.
On March 3 (KST), CBS Sports released its 50th annual Major League Baseball free agent rankings for this winter, placing Lee at No. 15. He was the third-highest ranked outfielder, behind No. 3 Cody Bellinger and No. 11 Kevin Kiermaier.
According to R.J. Anderson, who compiled the rankings, “Lee suffered a season-ending ankle fracture in July, but he is considered an advanced player on both the basepaths and defense. His batting skills are also quite good,” citing Lee’s contact rate in the KBO this year (91%) and his contact rate on fastballs (97%).
“With 23 of his 65 career home runs coming in 2022, 온라인카지노 Lee is not a slugger. He’ll need to be fully recovered from his injuries in order to contribute on defense and at the plate,” he said, citing injuries as a concern.
While defense and baserunning are important,
Lee will ultimately be judged on his bat. ‘Teams are always concerned about how KBO hitters will perform against major league pitchers,’ Anderson said. However, Lee’s former teammate Kim Ha-seong is performing well, so I think they can rest easy,” Anderson said.
Kim Ha-seong, who played with Lee in the KBO League Heroes for four years from 2017 to 2020, is in his third year in the major leagues this year. In 152 games, he batted .538 (17-for-140) with 17 home runs, 80 RBIs, 84 runs scored, 75 walks, 124 strikeouts, 38 stolen bases, a .351 on-base percentage, .398 slugging percentage, and a .749 OPS, raising the profile of Lee.
In an interview with ‘The Athletic’ in September, Kim said, “There are a lot of good players in Korea, young talents. That makes me play harder. I’m motivated to do well so that Korean players can get more attention from major league scouts. More players will be able to fulfill their major league dreams,” he said.
As Lee reaps the benefits of Kim’s success, his price tag is expected to rise. On March 3, The Athletic’s Zach Britton projected the size of contracts for major free agents, predicting that Lee would sign a four-year, $56 million deal. That’s twice as much as Kim Ha-seong, who signed a 4+1 year, $28 million guaranteed deal with San Diego in January 2021.
The highest contract for a Korean player in the postseason is held by pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin
In December 2012, he signed a six-year, $36 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Combined with the $25.73 million posted by the Dodgers to Ryu’s original team, the Hanwha Eagles, the total cost of Ryu’s services was a whopping $61.73 million.
It’s still a record that hasn’t been broken, and it’ll be interesting to see if Lee can surpass Ryu’s price tag from 11 years ago. If he does, the stakes will be high for his predecessors Ryu Hyun-jin and Kim Ha-seong, who paved the way.