“The most talented hitters in the KBO.”
Another article calling for a reunion between Kim Ha-seong (San Diego Padres) and Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom Heroes) has appeared in the United States. On July 15, Yardbarker listed Lee, Max Kepler (Minnesota Twins), and Lucas Giolito (Cleveland Cavaliers) as players the Padres should target in the 2023-2024 free agent market.
There’s been a lot of talk of interest in Lee, especially in the West. Former Hanwha manager Carlos Subero, who is familiar with the major league and minor league landscape, predicted at spring training in February that teams accustomed to signing international free agents could eventually step up.
In that regard, San Diego is a perfect fit for Lee. The Padres boast a super-luxury lineup, but their middle infield is a bit weak. They have Trent Grisham, who plays great defense. However, his bat hasn’t been great. In 141 games this season, he’s batting .202 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 62 runs scored, and a .674 OPS. In his career, he’s batting .217 with a .702 OPS. No matter how much time he needs to adjust to the majors, he’s not going to hit like Grisham.
“He was one of the best hitters in the KBO even before he joined San Diego,” Yadbacher said. San Diego could once again turn to Asia to fill a roster need. Lee Jung-hoo’s offseason postings are very exciting for international baseball fans. Lee, who just turned 25 in August, is perhaps the most talented Korean-born hitter to reach the major leagues.” 스포츠토토
“He’s a true contact hitter with gap power,” Yardbarker said, referring to his father, LG first base coach Lee Jong-beom. “Legacy means a lot in baseball, and Lee has a great pedigree. His father, Lee Jong-beom, played in the KBO and Nippon Professional Baseball and won numerous awards, including KBO MVP in 1994. Jong-beom is considered one of the most talented players of his generation.”
San Diego’s 2023-2024 free agency is foggy. With the payroll already loaded, it remains to be seen if the team will make another big push. The biggest question mark is where they stand on Juan Soto, who is a year away from free agency. While Lee is a good fit for San Diego, it remains to be seen if it will translate into an actual signing.
If Kim and Lee do join forces for the 2024 season, it will be the first time in four years since 2020. The two are best friends and work out together in the off-season. Even for Lee Jung-hoo, who will have to adjust to the major leagues, going to San Diego with Kim isn’t a bad idea. It’s also interesting to note that the Padres open their regular season against the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 20 of next year, so there’s a good chance that Lee’s major league debut will be at the Seoul Gocheok SkyDome, a venue he’s very familiar with.
It also remains to be seen if Lee will actually be able to command a $100 million contract. However, it is true that his performance in the Kiwoom this season was not as good as last year, when he won five batting titles and was named MVP, and he was out for the season after undergoing surgery for an ankle ligament injury in July. At this point, Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix Buffaloes) is the only international free agent who is expected to make the jump from Asia to the major leagues this winter.