Giants agree to multiyear deal with 2022 KBO League MVP

The Giants and outfielder Jung Hoo Lee are in settlement on a six-year, $113M deal, per Jon Heyman of The New York Post. There’s an opt-out after 4 years. Along with that assure, the Giants will owe a posting price of $18.825M to the Kiwoom Heroes. Lee is a shopper of the Boras Company.

Lee, 25, has been a extremely anticipated free agent for a very long time now. It was reported in January that the Kiwoom Heroes of the Korea Baseball Group would submit him for MLB golf equipment after the 2023 marketing campaign. At that time, Lee was coming off a superb 2022 marketing campaign.

He had all the time had sturdy plate self-discipline however took that a part of his sport to new heights final 12 months, strolling in 10.5% of his plate appearances whereas placing out in simply 5.1% of them. He had by no means hit greater than 15 house runs in a season however managed to tally 23 in that season. He completed with a batting line of .349/.421/.575 for a wRC+ of 175, indicating he was 75 p.c higher than league common. He additionally received a Golden Glove award for a fifth straight 12 months and earned MVP honors.

However his platform 12 months didn’t go fairly in keeping with plan. He hit .318/.406/.455 with simply six homers in his 86 video games in 2023. He injured his left ankle in late July, necessitating season-ending surgical procedure. Nonetheless, he garnered loads of curiosity from golf equipment just like the Giants, Padres, Yankees and Mets earlier than being formally posted final week.

The profile was considerably just like Masataka Yoshida, who was one other contact-over-power participant coming from abroad. Yoshida performed in Japan’s Nippon Skilled Baseball till signing with the Pink Sox for 2023 on a five-year, $90M deal. Because the NPB is mostly thought-about a notch above the KBO, that might maybe lead an observer to want his monitor document to Lee’s.

However there are a few the explanation why Lee is likely to be preferable, one among which is age. The flexibility to signal an on a regular basis participant who’s simply 25 years of age doesn’t happen fairly often, and the widespread curiosity in each Lee and Yoshinobu Yamamoto reveals that golf equipment place worth on that youth. Yoshida, by contract, was coming over for his age-29 season. Lee’s opt-out provides him the prospect to probably return to the open market earlier than his thirtieth birthday after maybe having confirmed himself succesful as a serious leaguer.

The opposite factor Lee seems to have over Yoshida is defensive acumen. Yoshida was thought-about a left-field-only participant earlier than signing and was graded poorly for his glovework with Boston, which might result in him spending extra time as a chosen hitter over time. Lee, nonetheless, is taken into account sturdy within the discipline. Evaluators are break up on whether or not or not he can stick in middle discipline, the place he spent most of his time with the Heroes. In Main League Baseball, he may very well be both a satisfactory middle fielder or higher suited to a nook, relying on who you ask.

All the questions make Lee troublesome to venture and it appears truthful to categorize this as a high-risk, high-reward play. As just lately identified by Eno Sarris of The Athletic, Lee’s batted ball metrics are available a bit under these of Ha-Seong Kim in his final KBO season. Kim struggled in his first MLB season, although ultimately adjusted sufficient to be barely above common on the plate in every of the previous two seasons. MLBTR predicted that Lee would safe a five-year, $50M deal, however the Giants have soared effectively previous that, greater than doubling it. Given their sturdy funding right here, they probably have excessive confidence in Lee, each in his skill to hit main league pitching and maybe stick in middle discipline as effectively.

Simply because the offseason was kicking off, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi stated that defensive upgrades within the outfield had been a precedence for this winter. “We’ll look so as to add somewhat bit extra velocity, somewhat bit extra vary to the outfield,” Zaidi stated at the moment. There have been good causes for such a goal. The membership’s outfielders posted a collective -13 Outs Above Common in 2023, with solely the Cardinals and Rockies coming in under them. Their -7 Defensive Runs Saved and -12.4 Final Zone Score additionally fell within the backside 10 league-wide.

The Giants didn’t actually have a full-time middle fielder in 2023, as no participant lined up there for greater than 57 video games. Every of Luis Matos, Mike Yastrzemski, Austin Slater, Bryce Johnson, Brett Wisely and Wade Meckler received into double digits, whereas Tyler Fitzgerald, Cal Stevenson, Heliot Ramos, LaMonte Wade Jr. and AJ Pollock had transient stints there. The membership is probably going hoping that Lee can solidify that place whereas pushing Yastrzemski into the nook outfield combine alongside guys like Mitch Haniger and Michael Conforto. Matos could wind up again within the minors after a mediocre MLB debut in 2023, or maybe the membership would think about placing him on the buying and selling block.

Along with the $113M that Lee will obtain, the Giants may also owe a posting price to the Heroes. With any participant posted for MLB golf equipment, the signing workforce owes a price to the posting membership, relative to the dimensions of the contract. It’s 20% of the primary $25M, 17.5% of the following $25M and 15% of any {dollars} thereafter. For this deal, the Giants will owe $18.825M to the Heroes on this deal, which means they’re shelling out $131.825M so as to add Lee to the roster.

Lately, the Giants have tried to signal star gamers and have come up simply brief. They had been within the operating for Aaron Judge final 12 months earlier than he returned to the Yankees. They’d a deal in place with Carlos Correa earlier than they balked at his bodily and walked away, resulting in him returning to the Twins. They had been within the operating for Shohei Ohtani this offseason earlier than he signed with the Dodgers.

Lee doesn’t fairly match as much as these gamers when it comes to star energy however that is simply the biggest funding of Zaidi’s tenure. The membership gave a $90M extension to Logan Webb however the largest free agent offers in recent times had been $44M to Carlos Rodónand $43.5M to Haniger. The Rodón deal had an opt-out after the primary 12 months that was ultimately triggered, so the membership didn’t even pay out that full contract.

The particular contract breakdown hasn’t been reported however that received’t be related for the aggressive stability tax, which works by the typical annual worth of a deal. Roster Resource has already plugged in Lee’s AAV and has the Giants’ CBT quantity at $189M. It’s unknown if they’re keen to cross the $237M base threshold subsequent 12 months, however even when not, they may nonetheless have round $45M to pursue upgrades elsewhere on the roster.

For the golf equipment that missed out on Lee, free company nonetheless options succesful middle fielders like Cody Bellinger, Harrison Bader, Kevin Kiermaier and Michael A. Taylor, whereas the commerce market might function gamers like Dylan Carlson or Manuel Margot.

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