The Giants are “showing continued interest” in infielder Jae-gyun Hwang, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network (via Twitter). Hwang, 29, is a free agent who would not require any posting arrangement to acquire.
The Korean star has spent much of his career with a different Giants organization — the KBO’s Lotte Giants. He held a showcase in the fall in hopes of landing an opportunity with a major league club.
Hwang is likely to factor as a third baseman, meaning that he’ll be competing with open-market options such as Luis Valbuena and Trevor Plouffe. Also potentially a factor is Todd Frazier of the White Sox, who’s available via trade. While Justin Turner’s signing may have been expected to clear the way for some more action at the hot corner, the market has largely been quiet since.
Though Hwang drew no bids when he was posted last winter, he ended up turning in rather an intriguing 2016 season. He not only continued to exhibit a power boost, hitting 27 home runs for the second consecutive season, but this time did so while nearly halving his strikeout totals (from 122 to 64) and slightly increasing his walk rate. While the overall .335/.394/.570 output came in the hitter-friendly KBO, and can’t be taken at face value, Hwang’s overall profile is much more promising now than it was this time last year.
For San Francisco, Hwang could represent an interesting lottery ticket who could play a reserve role or perhaps turn into something more. The club is said to be eyeing improvements at third base and the corner outfield, while remaining hesitant to expend too many resources to do so. While Hwang’s market price will be supported by demand from his native Korea — even if there’s a relative dearth of needy MLB organizations — he figures to be available at a relatively palatable rate by major league standards.