July 17th, 2024

South Korean outfielder Jung Hoo Lee gets $113 million, 6-year deal Giants, AP source says

By Janie Mccauley, The Associated Press on December 12, 2023.

FILE - South Korea's Jung Hoo Lee plays during a baseball game at Yokohama Baseball Stadium during the 2020 Summer Olympics, Aug. 2, 2021, in Yokohama, Japan. Lee, a South Korean MVP and the son of a former MVP, will become a free agent Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, and major league teams can sign him through 5 p.m. EST on Jan. 3. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Slugging South Korean outfielder Jung Hoo Lee and the San Francisco Giants have agreed to a $113 million, six-year contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the agreement had not been announced. Lee, a South Korean MVP and the son of a former MVP, can terminate the deal after four years and $72 million to become a free agent again.

The versatile Lee will immediately fill a huge need for the Giants, who have missed the playoffs the past two seasons after winning a franchise-record 107 games and the NL West in 2021.

San Francisco struck the deal after failing to sign two-way star Shohei Ohtani, who reached a record $700 million, 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The 25-year-old Lee was posted by South Korea’s Kiwoom Heroes on Dec. 4, and if he stays for the entire contract, the Giants would owe the Heroes an $18,825,000 posting fee. If he opts out, the posting fee would be reduced to $12,675,000.

San Francisco also would owe an additional fee of 15% for any earned bonuses or escalators.

When new Giants manager Bob Melvin was hired in October, he mentioned how he would help be a recruiter with players from Asia, given he has coached many greats – including most recently Ha-Seong Kim in San Diego.

Lee batted .318 with six homers and 48 RBIs in 86 games this year but broke his left ankle during a game against the Lotte Giants on July 22 and was sidelined the remainder of the season.

Last year, he hit .349 with career-bests of 23 home runs and 113 RBIs in 142 games. He was voted rookie of the year in 2017 and MVP in 2022.

Lee also hit .429 with two doubles and five RBIs for South Korea in this year’s World Baseball Classic, where South Korea failed to advance from its first-round group. He batted .241 with three doubles, one homer and three RBIs in the 2021 Olympics, where South Korea lost to the United States in the semifinals and the Dominican Republic for the bronze medal.

Lee has a .340 career average with 65 homers and 515 RBIs for the Heroes, who were renamed from Nexen to Kiwoon ahead of the 2019 season.

His father, Jong Beom Lee, was MVP in 1994 and played in Japan for the Central League’s Chunichi Dragons from 1998 to 2001.

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AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/

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