According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network via Twitter, the San Francisco Giants are “showing continued interest” in 29-year-old infielder Jae-Gyun Hwang of the Korean Baseball Organization.
The San Francisco Giants would likely limit Jae-Gyun Hwang to the bench seeing that Eduardo Nuñez already occupies the hot corner and the team’s No. 1 prospect Christian Arroyo may soon earn his call-up to the big league level. Hwang has only played third base and shortstop in the KBO, two positions currently occupied with no signs of an opening shortly.
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Should he sign, teaching Hwang to play the outfield isn’t out of the question. While the future of the Giants in left field looks bright with Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker, there is no guarantee either will pan out, and having Hwang in the team’s back pocket both expands his role and presents San Francisco with a backup option.
Since his debut as a 19-year-old back in 2007, Hwang has a career .285/.349/.433 slash line with 114 home runs and 172 RBIs. The infielder has emerged as one of the KBO’s best hitters in the past three seasons, batting a combined .312 while averaging 17 stolen bases and 21 home runs. Hwang significantly improved in 2016, cutting his total strikeouts almost entirely in half while ending the season with a .330/.391/.558 slash line, compared to a .290/.350/.521 slash line in 2015 Following an impressive 2015 season, Hwang hosted a showcase in the fall but received no bids in the winter.
Hwang won the KBO’s Home Run Derby in 2015, which points to his increase in power production since his rookie season. He also gained international attention in 2015 by unleashing bat flip after a game-tying home run which would make Yasiel Puig smile.
With the amount of money San Francisco’s front office may dish out in the coming seasons, the organization will remain reluctant to expend too many resources. Hwang may not command too much money despite the impressive numbers due to the hitter-friendly conditions of the KBO.
The San Francisco Giants should continue to explore Hwang as an option for the bench, and if he remains available on the open market, San Francisco should pull the trigger and bank on the infielder’s potential to hit major-league pitching.