Scott Boras, a superagent representing the Major League, emphasized how much attention their customers received in front of reporters when the Major League General Manager’s meeting was completed last month. The same was true for Lee Jung-hoo (25), who is the best hitter in the KBO League and the MVP of the league in 2022.
Boras had confidence and conviction in his tone. At the time, Boras said that nearly half of the teams in the Major League had already inquired about recruiting Lee Jung-hoo, boasting that he would bring K-pop to the Major League. Back then, the official posting system (closed competitive bidding) process had not even begun. However, many Major League teams have already watched Lee Jung-hoo for as long as two to three years, and there was no disagreement that he would bid.
With the Major League’s winter meeting kicking off on the 4th (Korean time), interest in Lee Jung-hoo is getting hotter. It seems that Lee Jung-hoo’s name has already passed through the United States. The most influential team in the early days was San Francisco, a prestigious team in the western part of the National League. San Francisco is known to have watched Lee Jung-hoo in the middle of the season when high-ranking team officials visited Korea. At the end of the season, General Putila visited Gocheok Sky Dome himself and showed his interest.
Back then, Lee couldn’t even play properly due to his ankle injury. Some suggested that Lee’s intuition should be interpreted as a courtship measure. San Francisco needs reinforcement of both outfielders and left-handed hitters at the same time. For this reason, Lee is also linked to Cody Bellinger, who ranks first in the outfield rankings and has this condition. It is natural that Lee is interested in Lee Jung-hoo, who is mentioned as the second in the outfield rankings after Bellinger. Farhan Zaidi, president of baseball, also acknowledged his interest in Asian players, including Lee Jung-hoo and Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
It was followed by the San Diego Padres and the New York Yankees. Rumors of a trade between Juan Soto, San Diego’s main batter this off-season, are all the talk of the town. San Diego wants to meet its team’s annual salary at around 200 million U.S. dollars, and is examining the cards by offering Soto, whose annual salary is expected to be around 32 to 35 million dollars next year. Local analysts say that a specific exchange of cards has been made with the New York Yankees. The plan is to sell Soto who has one year left as a free agent, and instead recruit outfielder Lee Jung-hoo to fill the gap.
The New York Yankees also desperately need an outfielder next to Aaron Judge, and a left-handed hitter would be a better team. That’s why they jumped into the race to recruit Soto. John Hayman, a columnist for The New York Post and a Major League Baseball source, has expressed interest in Lee Jung-hoo several times. Bellinger is the top priority, but there have been several reports that Lee Jung-hoo and Kevin Kiermaier are watching at the same time as an alternative. Considering Hayman’s intelligence, it is widely believed that the remarks were not out of the blue. 안전놀이터
On top of that, even the New York Mets have entered the race to recruit Lee Jung-hoo. Bob Nightingale, a columnist for “USA Today” and also a leading source in the Major League, drew attention on the 4th by reporting that “Metz is showing great interest in Korean center fielder Lee Jung-hoo.” The Mets have been mentioned several times in interest in Yamamoto, but it has not been well that Lee Jung-hoo’s interest has been publicly mentioned as a leading source.
The Mets, who ran to win the World Series amid aggressive investment from Steve Cohen, the owner of the team, are in a new phase with disappointing performances this year. Manager Buck Showalter was virtually replaced, and Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, the key puzzle of the presidential bid and high-paid players, left the team one by one at the last trade deadline. The plan is to overhaul the payroll this year and lay the foundation for the World Series within two to three years with a new face.
Jeff McNeil in left field, Brandon Nimmo in center field, and Starling Marte in right field are all playing for the Mets. The structure of starting pitchers is relatively clear. McNeil has contract until 2026, Nemo until 2030, and Marte until 2025. However, he lacks backup, and Marte is now a veteran in his mid-30s. Considering the designated hitter slot, the majority say that one more starting outfielder is needed.
Coincidentally, all the teams that are mentioned in the bid to recruit Lee Jung-hoo are “rich.” Based on team salaries in 2023, the New York Mets (about 343.6 million dollars) ranked first overall, the New York Yankees (about 278.65 million dollars) ranked second, and San Diego (about 250.6 million dollars) ranked third. San Francisco was ranked 12th, but it still spent nearly 200 million dollars in team salaries, and it is a representative big market in the league that is expected to rise to more than 200 million dollars this year.
In other words, the Lee Jung-hoo recruitment battle has already become a feast for rich clubs. Although it is a posting, it is virtually no different from the FA due to the reorganization of the system. Teams without money are unable to pick the number of Lee Jung-hoo, the negotiator. For this reason, some small market teams that were interested in Lee Jung-hoo have already given up their intentions to recruit him. This is because they confirmed the atmosphere of the market. When rich people compete, the price of the ransom naturally rises. Lee Jung-hoo’s jackpot is gradually approaching reality.
Meanwhile, Lee Jung-hoo’s posting is expected to begin around the 5th, midway through the winter meeting. The posting process will take place for a month after that. Cooperation is possible from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 30th day after the Major League Baseball secretariat announces the posting. If the period is completed, it will continue until early January. However, the process is one month, but it does not have to be completed. If you listen to all the proposals and there is nothing to be revised in particular or if you are satisfied with the proposal, the decision may end sooner than you think.
Several big fish are expected to move teams or sign contracts during the winter meeting, and there is a possibility that they will watch a combination of Cody Bellinger’s contract and Juan Soto’s trade, which affect the Lee Jung-hoo market. There are only a few outfielders in the market anyway. Teams that missed out on Bellinger and Soto are likely to run towards Lee Jung-hoo. The full-fledged offer to Lee Jung-hoo is likely to begin during the winter meeting and reach its peak after the winter meeting. Lee Jung-hoo is expected to make a decision by combining these.
Not only money but also Lee Jung-hoo’s intention is expected to be reflected. In the case of Kim Ha-sung, who went to the U.S. by posting ahead of the 2021 season, there were many courts besides San Diego who eventually embraced him. Rather, some teams reportedly offered better conditions than San Diego. However, I remember Kim Ha-sung finally choosing San Diego. Lee Jung-hoo is also expected to consider various things, including the difficulty of adapting, the size of the market, and competition within the team.
Fortunately, Lee Jung-hoo’s agent is Scott Boras. He is a veteran agent who has gone through all sorts of hardships, and it cannot be ignored that he is the agent of Soto and Bellinger. Prior to Lee Jung-hoo, Bellinger’s FA negotiations and Soto’s trade negotiations are likely to be conducted to grasp all the outfield market conditions 100% and engage in Lee Jung-hoo negotiations. In the FA market, information is life. Lee Jung-hoo market is overflowing with positive factors no matter how many times you look at it.