Kiwoom Heroes Lee Jung-hoo, who is recovering from ankle surgery, is predicted to be the second most notable outfielder in the major league free agent market at the end of this year.
On the 8th (Korean time), 메이저놀이터 ESPN, an American sports channel, published a planning article titled ‘Early Ranking for 2023 Free Agency: Ohtani Leads the Top 10’.
Lee Jung-hoo was listed in the outfielder category in the section of ‘Players who can be guaranteed more than $10 million’, not in the ‘Top 10’. ESPN was the first to mention Lee Jung-hoo as the outfielder, followed by Harrison Bader (New York Yankees), Zak Pederson (San Francisco), Tommy Pam (New York Mets), Kevin Kiermeyer (Toronto), Hunter Renfro (LA Angels), and Michael Taylor. (Minnesota), Randall Grichick (Angels), Adam Duvall (Boston), and Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh). No separate explanation was given for them.
As an outfielder, Lee Jung-hoo received the second evaluation after Cody Bellinger of the Chicago Cubs, who ranked 9th among the ‘Top 10’. This is evidence that the evaluation of Lee Jung-hoo, who was out of the season due to recent ankle surgery, has not changed much. It is the view that Lee Jung-hoo is still an attractive resource as an outfielder.
Lee Jung-hoo was replaced after complaining of ankle pain during defense in the 8th inning against the Lotte Giants at Sajik Stadium on the 22nd of last month.
As a result of a detailed examination the next day, the membrane surrounding the left ankle tendon, that is, the extensor belt, was diagnosed with damage. He underwent suture surgery on the 27th and is expected to take three months to rehabilitate. Participation in the Hangzhou Asian Games, which opens on September 23, has been skipped, and a comeback before early October, when the regular season ends, is virtually impossible. Kiwoom, who is in ninth place with 41 wins and 57 losses, has little chance of advancing to the postseason, so Lee Jung-hoo will no longer play in actual matches this year.
Nevertheless, ESPN mentioned Lee Jung-hoo as a player to pay attention to in the outfield market.
Fangraphs placed Lee Jung-hoo at 4th in an international pro prospect scouting report earlier this year, saying, ‘Like Bo Vichet and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lee Jung-hoo inherited a baseball lineage. He hit 23 home runs and 60 extra-base hits in 2022 and was named MVP, and in the last 3 years he has walked more than strikeouts. Many teams will be watching.”
Even if he is injured, it is unlikely that the evaluation of Lee Jung-hoo will change significantly. Conditions may be adjusted in negotiations due to the risk of injury, but it is difficult to beat a player who will sign a major league contract with a minor league contract.
Meanwhile, ESPN made the top 10 with Shohei Otani (Angels), Matt Chapman (Toronto), Blake Snell (San Diego), Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix), Aaron Nola (Philadelphia), Josh Hader (San Diego), Eduardo Rodriguez (Detroit), Julio Urias (LA Dodgers), Cody Bellinger (Chicago Cubs), and Lucas Giolito (Angels) were ranked in order.
Regarding Ohtani, ‘In a survey three months ago, 26 major league officials predicted an average contract worth 524 million dollars over 11 years, but now it has soared to at least $600 million’, and about Japanese pitcher Yamamoto, ‘Senga Godai (5 $75 million a year), is five years younger, has considerable quality and better command. He predicted that a contract of more than 100 million dollars is expected, excluding posting fees.