San Francisco where Lee Jung-hoo, a 140-year-old powerhouse, will play?

Interest in San Francisco is growing as the news that Lee Jung-hoo (25) signed a six-year, $113 million (about 148.4 billion won) contract with the San Francisco Giants of the U.S. Major League Baseball (MLB).

Journalists familiar with MLB news, including local media “New York Post” John Hayman and “The Athletic” Ken Rosenthal, announced on social media on the 13th (Korea time) that “Lee Jung-hoo agreed to join San Francisco for six years and $113 million.” “The contract included an opt-out clause four years later,” he wrote. An opt-out clause means that a club and a player agree to cancel the contract.

San Francisco is the most active big league club in recruiting Lee Jung-hoo so far. Lee Jung-hoo started to recruit him when he was playing for the Kiwoom Heroes in the KBO League. Pete Puteller, the general manager, visited Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul in October to check Lee Jung-hoo’s performance.

“Lee Jung-hoo showed six to seven swings in one at bat. It was a great experience to see him swing,” Perteller said. San Francisco manager Bob Melvin, who served as the San Diego manager until the 2023 season, mentioned Lee Jung-hoo’s name at a recent winter meeting and said he needed a new outfielder.

Local media predicted earlier that Lee Jung-hoo would head to San Francisco. Local sports channel “MLB Network” reported on the 21st of last month that “the New York Yankees and San Francisco are focusing on recruiting Lee Jung-hoo,” adding, “It is not surprising that San Francisco is showing interest in Lee Jung-hoo.” Other media also predicted that “San Francisco will spend a lot of money on recruiting Lee Jung-hoo.”

San Francisco is a team based in San Francisco, California, and plays in the western district of the MLB National League (NL). While celebrating its 140th anniversary this year since its foundation in 1883, it is a traditional powerhouse that has won eight World Series championships and 23 National League championships.

From the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, the team boasted strong batting performance, led by Barry Bonds. In the 2010s when Tim Lynscomb and Madison Bumgarner were active, the team won three World Series titles in 2010, 2012, and 2014 due to a combination of pitching power and hitting power.

San Francisco, however, is struggling to regain its reputation as a team that has failed to advance to the postseason recently. Notably, the team was in trouble in the 2023 season due to its dull bat. Its slugging percentage was the lowest in the NL with 383 runs, and its batting average was also the lowest in the NL with 235. It was ranked 14th among the 15 NL teams with 312 runs.

San Francisco Giants’ season record is 79 wins and 83 losses. It ranked fourth in the NL West, failing to play fall baseball for the second consecutive year following last season. This is also why San Francisco is making great efforts to strengthen its power next season.

San Francisco is a team that has strong relationship with Korean players as well. Hwang Jae-gyun (kt Wiz) joined the big league in 2017 after joining the San Francisco Giants. He also has memories of hitting the winning homerun since his MLB debut. Song Seung-joon, Kim Sun-woo, Kim Byung-hyun, and Lee Hak-joo also played for San Francisco’s minor league teams.

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