The San Francisco Giants are a strong contender to sign Lee Jung-hoo (25-Keum Heroes) as he makes his way to Major League Baseball (MLB). Maybe this is where he will duo with Kim Ha-seong (28-San Diego Padres) once again.

“The Giants are looking to bolster their left infield (third base, shortstop) and could potentially acquire Kim or Gavin Lux (Los Angeles Dodgers) via trade,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Monday.

San Francisco finished the 2023 season with a 79-83 record (.488 winning percentage), good for fourth place in the National League West. After winning a franchise-record 107 games just two years ago and preventing the Los Angeles Dodgers from winning back-to-back division titles, the Giants lost two more games this year after posting exactly a .500 winning percentage last year. The team fired manager Gabe Kepler after the season and brought in 20-year veteran Bob Melvin from San Diego.

San Francisco underperformed at the plate this season. Their team batting average (.235) was last in the National League, and their OPS (.695) was below average (.740). Wilmer Flores, with 23 home runs and an OPS of .863, was the lone bright spot, but overall, the offense seemed to have sunk.

Especially at third base and shortstop. Veteran shortstop Brandon Crawford is showing signs of aging, hitting .194 with seven home runs, 38 RBIs and a .587 OPS in 93 games. Marco Luciano, a 2001 graduate who appeared in 14 games in his late-season big league debut, is also far from perfect. Third baseman J.D. Davis has hit 18 home runs but hasn’t put up impressive numbers with a .248 batting average and .738 OPS.토토사이트

As a result, San Francisco will be looking to add depth at two positions: third base and shortstop. The Giants are likely to pursue Matt Chapman in free agency. The four-time Gold Glove winner has established himself as a dominant third baseman, especially after five seasons in Oakland (2017-2021) under Melvin.

At shortstop, however, there’s not much on the market. The free agent options are Tim Anderson or Ahmed Rosario. However, Anderson, the 2019 American League batting champion (.335), has struggled this year with a .245 batting average, and Rosario has been mediocre with a .263 batting average and .683 OPS. It’s time to turn your attention to the trade market.

As the outlet notes, “The Dodgers are currently looking to trade for a shortstop like Willy Adames (Milwaukee) or Bo Bichette (Toronto). San Francisco could also enter the fray, or the Dodgers could acquire Chris Taylor, Miguel Rojas or Gavin Lux, who is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.” “Another shortstop option in the National League West is Ha Sung Kim, who has now moved to second base with the acquisition of Xander Bogaerts. Acquiring Ha-Sung Kim would require a big price tag, but the free agent market isn’t the best way to go if San Francisco wants to challenge for a title.”

Entering his third year in the big leagues, Kim had his best season yet. After batting .202 in 117 games in 2021, he improved to .251 with 11 home runs, 59 RBIs, 12 doubles and a .708 OPS in 150 games at first base last year. This year, he moved to second base, an unfamiliar position, and hit .260 with 17 home runs, 60 RBIs, 84 runs scored, 140 hits, 38 doubles, and a .749 OPS in 152 games. His 5.8 wins above replacement (WAR) ranked eighth in the National League, according to Baseball-Reference. In July, he had a “crazy summer,” batting .337 with five home runs and an OPS of .999. Although injuries and a slump in September prevented him from becoming the first Asian infielder to reach 20 HRs and 20 RBIs, he still had a career-high season in home runs, doubles, and RBIs.

In OAA (Outs Above Average, where 0 is average), the latest defensive metric available through Statcast, Kim was +7 in games played at second base, a stellar, above-average defense. As a result, after narrowly missing out on the Gold Glove last year at shortstop, he won this year’s award in the utility category, the first Korean and first Asian infielder to do so.

In San Francisco, it was Melvin who turned Kim into a Gold Glove shortstop. According to Newsies, at the Gold Glove press conference on May 20, Kim said, “The most memorable congratulation I received was from Bob Melvin. He said, ‘You’re one of the best players I’ve ever met. It was great to play with you, and congratulations,'” he recalled. That’s how well the coach knows Kim.

But the odds are not in his favor. Next year, the final season of his four-year contract with San Diego, Kim will make $8 million (about 10.4 billion won). Earlier, The Athletic columnist and former Cincinnati manager Jim Borden said, “San Diego isn’t going to trade Kim for $8 million.” His salary is too low for his value, and it would take a lot to trade him.

Kim Ha-seong (left) and Lee Jung-hoo with the Kiwoom in 2019.
If Kim were to be traded to San Francisco, he could potentially duo with Lee once again. The two played together in Kiwoom from 2017 to 2020, leading the team to the Korean Series in 2019.

San Francisco is currently the frontrunner in the race to sign Lee. “San Francisco and the New York Yankees are interested in Lee,” MLB Network, a sports channel that broadcasts Major League Baseball across the United States, reported on Nov. 21. General manager Pete Putilla was spotted visiting the Gocheok SkyDome to watch Lee play. An agent told The Athletic, “He didn’t go to Korea to see Lee Jung-hoo’s one at-bat. But the sight of it will touch his heart. He was a superstar there, and he’ll have a chance to sign with a team that treats him like a star player.”

Lee joined the Nexen Heroes (now Kiwoom) with the first overall pick in the 2017 rookie draft and has played consistently for the organization for seven seasons, batting .340 with 65 home runs, 515 RBI, 581 runs scored, 69 doubles, a .407 on-base percentage, a .491 slugging percentage and an .898 OPS in 884 games. He has the best batting average among active players with at least 3,000 career at-bats. In 2022, he won the MVP award after hitting .349 with 23 home runs, 113 RBIs, and an OPS of .996. The good news is that he’s been able to consistently hit for power while maintaining his ability to make contact.

This season, however, he was limited to 86 games due to injury and hit .318 with six home runs, 45 RBIs, and an OPS of .861. After getting off to a slow start, hitting just .218 in the month of April, Lee posted monthly averages of .305 in May, .374 in June, and .435 in July. He eventually broke into the triple digits on June 11 and maintained a steady pace. However, on July 22, he suffered an ankle injury against Sasik Lotte that landed him on the operating table, and he ended the season with a fan service appearance against Gocheok Samsung Electronics on October 10.

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