The SF Giants reportedly agreed to terms on a six-year, $113 million deal with star KBO outfielder Jung-Hoo Lee. This move is a unique addition in the Farhan Zaidi era in that it is arguably the first move with a fair degree of risk.
The SF Giants signing of Jung-Hoo Lee is a unique move in the Farhan Zaidi era
For the first five years, the Giants have comfortably shopped in the middle of the market. Oftentimes, signing a deal of no more than three years and at an acceptable average annual value. If the deal did not pan out, there was little harm as the contract did not preclude the team from making other moves and was off of the books relatively quickly. If it works out, then it is likely a good bargain.
Not surprisingly, the Giants received middling performances from many of those deals. Some were good additions, but not the type that moved the needle considerably.
Perhaps, the one signing that felt like a big addition was the Carlos Rodón signing. He inked a two-year, $44 million pact after the 2021 season. This included an opt-out after the first season, which we knew he would exercise if he had any level of success. As fun as his lone season was in San Francisco, you knew it was likely a short stay. At most, it was a two-year deal and similar to many of the contracts signed during the Zaidi era.
This move feels oddly different in a good way. It has some risk to it, but with risk comes reward. There is an unknown for Lee, who is coming stateside after a fantastic seven-year run with Kiwoom Heroes of the KBO.
He posted an .898 OPS with the Heroes while netting five Gold Glove awards in the outfield. How will he perform in the majors? No one really knows, but there was plenty of interest in the 25-year-old outfielder. The San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays, and Chicago Cubs were thought to be in the mix as well.
The Giants have missed out on free agent after free agent. This was likely due to Zaidi's endless pursuit of value. If he felt a contract was out of his value threshold, he would not budge. It was frustrating to see many players who seemed like an obvious fit for San Francisco sign elsewhere and succeed. Plus, having only one winning season since 2017 just did not attract free agents either.
This feels like a signing where the Giants identified him as a target and were not going to lose the bidding. Sooner or later, they needed to show some boldness. Not just to the fans, but to other free agents as well. This is a move that shows it.
On a different note, it is a six-year with an opt-out after the fourth season. Lee will be in a Giants uniform for what is an eternity in baseball. Whether it is for four years or six years, Giants fans have someone that they can reasonably expect to be in the lineup each day. We did not get that same feeling with the Rodón signing.
This is an exciting time for the Giants. Hopefully, it means more moves are on the way, but for the first time in years, they competed aggressively to land one of their top targets.