Giants Reportedly Sign Jung Hoo Lee to Six-Year, $113 Million Deal

The San Francisco Giants have finally made their big splash; signing Jung Hoo Lee to a six-year, $113 million contract.

TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 12: Jung Hoo Lee #51 of Korea flies out in the fourth inning during the World Baseball Classic Pool B game between Czech Republic and Korea at Tokyo Dome on March 12, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Kenta Harada/Getty Images)

For years now, the San Francisco Giants have regularly been in the market for a big free agent splash. The club has been without a true superstar since the Buster Posey days. In each of the past few offseasons, they’ve pursued some of the game’s top players to no avail.

Last winter, San Francisco fell victim to MLB insider Jon Heyman’s “Arson Judge” announcement.

For those unfamiliar, Heyman prematurely broke news that superstar outfielder Aaron Judge was heading to the Bay Area. It was announced shortly after that Judge was not, in fact, going to the Giants; but returning to the Yankees.

This time around, Heyman’s got news to turn the Giants’ fortune around. In a post on X, Heyman says the club is signing Jung Hoo Lee to a six-year, $113 million contract. Lee’s deal also has an opt-out clause after four years.

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Jung Hoo Lee’s profile

The left-handed swinging outfielder debuted in the KBO when he was just 18-years old.

Since then, he has more than earned his nickname “Grandson of the Wind”. His father Jong-Beom Lee was a KBO MVP and made 13 All-Star Games back in his day and was affectionately called “Son of the Wind”.

Lee, 25, has spent the last seven years in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) and has emerged as one of the top talents over there. In that time, he’s accumulated a .340 career batting average and .898 OPS. He has double-digit home run potential, hits the ball in the gap a ton, has speed on the bases and plays exceptional defense, primarily in center field.

Last year in particular, he was limited to just 86 games after sustaining an ankle injury in July, but he remained an elite bat. In that time, he hit six home runs with 45 driven in, an astoundingly-low 5.9 K% and 139 wRC+. Those numbers were lower than what he’d gotten used, but were still enough to be 39 percent above league-average.

Just Baseball’s Aram Leighton broke down Lee’s swing in November and really highlighted how the newest Giant is quick to the ball and makes a ton of contact. He also mentions that Lee has aspirations of winning a batting title one day in his MLB career. To his credit, he’s one of the top candidates to dethrone Luis Arraez of the Miami Marlins as the game’s best contact hitter.

On defense, Lee is a five-time Gold Glover in center field. He uses his above-average speed to cover a ton of ground on the grass and has excellent instincts out there. In his last four seasons, he racked up 28 outfield assists, which points to an impressive throwing arm as well.

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A Perfect, But Expensive Fit

Getting the Korean stud to man center field is going to be huge for the Giants. The trio of Mike Yastrzemski, Michael Conforto and Mitch Haniger just was not going to get it done in the upcoming season.

Now, the Giants’ shiny new toy is going to give them Gold Glove defense and will be an on-base machine. Roster Resource has him projected to bat seventh in their lineup, but he could easily bat much higher.

Last season, the Giants received abysmal production from their outfielders. Their outfield corps finished 28th in batting average, 29th in SLG, 20th in K% and 24th in wRC+. Through and through, an upgrade was needed in the worst way.

Lee’s new contract is great for him, but could be a bit of an overpay by the Giants. The club has undoubtedly been in the mood to spend, especially after watching their division rivals land Shohei Ohtani in free agency.

It’s worth noting that the $113 million going Lee’s way may not necessarily keep the Giants from pursuing some middle-of-the-lineup pop in free agency. Jorge Soler, J.D. Martinez or even Cody Bellinger stand out as some of the bigger names the Giants could pivot to with Lee in tow.