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MLB Scouting Projections 5 Years and $50 Million

MLB Scouting Projections 5 Years and $50 Million... "Lee Jung-hoo's contract will be accelerated only when Otani's future is decided."

 With Major League Baseball's stove league in full swing, attention is focused on Lee Jung-hoo's future, which is set to enter the U.S. through the posting system.

Recently, the San Diego Padres sent Juan Soto and Trent Grisham to the New York Yankees in a trade to recruit five new players. John Hayman, a columnist for the New York Post, said on his social media, "There are rumors that Lee Jung-hoo is recruited from the KBO League. San Diego could be a strong destination for Lee Jung-hoo."

This is a highly anticipated scenario. San Diego has saved around 38 million U.S. dollars in annual salary for next season by sending Soto and Grisham to the Yankees, and has faced a situation where it has to fill in new outfielders. For San Diego, which has expressed strong interest in Lee Jung-hoo, recruiting Lee Jung-hoo could be an attractive card. However, San Diego is not the only team showing interest in Lee Jung-hoo.

Even if they are Major League teams that are interested in Lee Jung-hoo, they should look at the team situation. The New York Yankees were originally a team that expressed their intention to participate in recruiting Lee Jung-hoo. The Yankees absolutely needed an outfielder to the extent that the New York Yankees and the San Francisco Giants were mentioned even before Lee Jung-hoo was announced as MLB posting. As Aaron Judge lost his strength due to injury, he was looking for an outfielder who could play full-time.

However, a massive trade between the New York Yankees and the San Diego Padres took place during the MLB Winter Meetings. The Yankees will give up Michael King, Drew Thorpe, Johnny Frito, Randy Vazquez (pitching), and Kyle Higashioka (pitching) and recruit San Diego outfielders Juan Soto and Trent Grisham. The Yankees already hired left-handed outfielder Alex Verdugo on the condition that they send three pitchers with the Boston Red Sox. Chances are very low that Lee Jung-hoo will wear the Yankees' Pinstrife striped uniform.

Then, how interested would San Diego, which sent two main outfielders to the Yankees, be in recruiting Lee Jung-hoo? According to reports, the level of interest is "very high." "Since Soto and Grisham were sent, we need to reinforce the two outfielders," a San Diego official said, adding, "The club has been putting a lot of effort into recruiting Lee Jung-hoo for a long time, and it is the same situation now, but it seems that the decision will be made in terms of ransom and detailed conditions."

It has been reported that San Diego took out 50 million U.S. dollars to pay for the team's annual salary during the season. During the Stove League, the team had to move to lower the team's total salary, and Juan Soto and Trent Grisham were able to be sent to the Yankees.

San Diego seems to covet Lee Jung-hoo the most as a replacement for Soto and Grisham. San Diego general manager A.J. Preller also said in an interview with U.S. reporters on the first day of the winter meeting that he had watched Lee Jung-hoo over the past few years, and although Lee Jung-hoo did not finish the season (due to injury), he admitted that he was familiar to San Diego.

The problem is Lee Jung-hoo's ransom, which is soaring day by day. "I wonder how much San Diego can match Lee Jung-hoo's ransom," said a veteran scout in charge of Asian players. "I sent Soto and Grisham to the Yankees to reduce the team's ransom, but I don't know how San Diego fans would understand that they are recruiting Lee Jung-hoo by paying more than 50 million U.S. dollars as a substitute." The scout predicted that San Diego could start recruiting Harrison Bader or Kevin Kiermaier, an outfielder whose skills have already been proven, after examining the market conditions.

Pete Putilla, the general manager of the San Francisco Giants, who appeared in person in the final game of the Kiwoom Heroes' home game in October. Putilla, who stood up with the crowd and cheered with applause when Lee Jung-hoo entered the batter's box as a pinch hitter, seemed to be very close to Lee Jung-hoo's entry into the U.S. in the future. Moreover, Bob Melvin, who appointed Kim Ha-sung in San Diego until the 2023 season, received more attention by mentioning Lee Jung-hoo's name at the site of the recent winter meeting, mentioning the need for an outfielder.

"San Francisco has Cody Bellinger as the No. 1 center fielder for the FA," the aforementioned scout said. "Although San Francisco is constantly showing interest in Lee Jung-hoo, Cody Bellinger is the No. 1 outfielder." San Francisco is also known to have a meeting with Shohei Ohtani, the biggest player in MLB, this season. If the contract is not signed with Ohtani, it will recruit one of the "named" FA players, and Cody Bellinger could be the target.

The next team that is displaying affection for Lee Jung-hoo is the New York Mets. Looking at the outfield situation of the New York Mets, left field is 100 percent vacant. The center fielder is Brandon Nimmo. Starling Marte exists as a right fielder, but he has played in 86 games this season after finger surgery. From the club's point of view, it has to prepare for after Marte. D.J. Stewart is receiving good marks in offense but has not gained trust in defense, so there is a limit to hiring the main outfielder. The Mets have no choice but to actively move to recruit Lee Jung-hoo.

Currently, the New York Mets are making efforts to recruit Yoshinobu Yamamoto from Japan. Local media reported that Mets owner Steve Cohen and president David Stearns recently visited Japan and persuaded Yamamoto and his family to sign a contract.

The Mets are also paying attention to recruiting Lee Jung-hoo. According to reports, Lee Jung-hoo's agent Scott Boras and Mets President David Stearns met in person. It has not been revealed what kind of story came and went at the meeting, but as Lee Jung-hoo's trip to the Yankees became difficult, Scott Boras seems to be continuing conversations with several teams.

At first, the Mets did not pay much attention to Lee Jung-hoo. Inside the club, it is clear that Lee Jung-hoo is a "good player," but he felt burdened by a five-year, 50-million-dollar ransom. Above all, the fact that Lee Jung-hoo was injured this season and played in the game after surgery was only one at-bat in the final game would not have convinced him to recruit him. However, other officials highly appreciated Lee Jung-hoo's chances of success in the MLB, and the mood has been changed to not repeat the previous disappointment this time, recalling the experience of missing Kim Ha-sung three years ago.

MLB scout B, who asked not to be named, explained that if Lee Jung-hoo's entry into the U.S. is to be decided, Shohei Ohtani's future must be decided quickly, and only then will the teams that missed Shohei Ohtani open their wallets wide to recruit the necessary resources.

"If the destination of players who boast a large amount of ransom, such as Cody Bellinger and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, is decided, Lee Jung-hoo's future will be decided immediately. Of course, Lee Jung-hoo's new team may appear regardless of the destination of other players, but considering the progress of the stove league, it is highly likely that the decision will be made in this order. In this regard, even if Lee Jung-hoo, who has to sign a contract with the MLB team within 30 days of the posting announcement, is at a somewhat disadvantageous situation, the agent will not be greatly restricted by starting the posting announcement at the right time."

B predicted that Lee Jung-hoo's price would be 50 million dollars for five years. Lee Jung-hoo can freely negotiate with 30 MLB clubs until 7 a.m. on Jan. 4 next year, and MLB scouts contacted by Sunday newspapers expected Lee Jung-hoo's posting negotiations to be completed before Dec. 25.
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Saturday, December 9, 2023
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