Kiwoom Heroes star center fielder Jung Hoo Lee has officially been posted for MLB teams, reports Yonhap News. Players coming over from the Korea Baseball Organization get a 30-day posting period, unlike players from Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball, who get 45 days. Lee's 30-day posting period opened at 8 a.m. ET on Monday, Dec. 4, and will close at 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Jan. 3.
Lee, who turned only 25 in August, slashed .318/.406/.455 with six home runs in 86 games before an ankle injury ended his season this past August. The injury required surgery, though Lee was activated for a farewell at-bat in the team's final home game. He appeared to get down the line pretty well for a player not even three full months out from ankle surgery.
A year ago Lee authored a .349/.421/.575 batting line with a career-high 23 home runs en route to being named KBO MVP. He is a former Rookie of the Year and .340/.407/.491 career hitter in seven profession seasons. Lee's father, Jong-Beom, is a former KBO MVP himself, and is widely regarded as one the greatest players in league history. Jung Hoo pairs elite talent with great bloodlines.
Lee fractured his ankle in July, ending his season and hindering his ability to further audition for MLB scouts. He's regarded as a plus runner and defender, and he's demonstrated appreciable bat-to-ball skills. Lee had a 91% contact rate this season, including a 97% contact rate against fastballs, according to data obtained by CBS Sports. He's not a big-time slugger (23 of his 65 career home runs came in 2022), and that puts the onus on him making a full recovery so that he can contribute in the field and on the basepaths. Teams always have concerns about how KBO hitters will fare against MLB pitching. The recent success of Ha-Seong Kim, Lee's former teammate, should provide them with some peace of mind.
Three years ago, the San Diego Padres signed Kim to a four-year contract worth $28 million. The record contract for player coming over from KBO is the six-year, $36 million contract the Los Angeles Dodgers gave Hyun-Jin Ryu in December 2012. Lee is represented by Scott Boras and you can count on Boras wanting to break Ryu's record, if not shatter it.
Whichever team signs Lee will have to pay the Heroes a posting fee that is based on the size of his MLB contract. Here is the posting fee structure:
- Contract worth less than $25 million: 20% of contract value
- Contract worth $25 million to $50 million: $5 million plus 17.5% of amount over $25 million
- Contract worth more than $50 million: $9.275 million plus 15% of amount over $50 million
A hypothetical $75 million contract -- what the Chicago White Sox gave Andrew Benintendi last offseason -- would come with a $13.025 million posting fee. The posting fee does not count against the competitive balance tax payroll, which is good news for large market teams, but it is a real expense. The team that signs Lee will have to cut the Heroes a pretty big check.
Japanese starters Shota Imanaga and Yoshinobu Yamamoto have already been posted this offseason. Their 45-day posting periods also end in January. Lee is the third high-profile player looking to make the jump from overseas to the big leagues this winter.