TODAY: Hwang turned down an offer from the KBO’s Lotte Giants, Jee-ho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency reports (hat tip to MyKBO.net’s Dan Kurtz). Yoon-won Lee, the Giants’ general manager, said his club extended “a sizeable offer” to Hwang, but the infielder seems intent on testing himself in North America, even if it means earning less money. To this end, Hwang is reportedly open to signing a split contract rather than a straight big league deal.
TUESDAY: The market continues to develop for Korean third baseman Jae-gyun Hwang, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (links to Twitter). He’s most interested at this point in securing an opportunity that comes with a 40-man roster spot, per the report.
Hwang, a 29-year-old free agent, was said recently to have drawn some attention from the Giants. The Brewers and Tigers are also among the team’s with some level of interest, according to Berardino. While the Twins have “checked in” on him, it seems there’s no present fit.
It could be, of course, that Hwang may still need to wait for other moves to shake out before he’s presented with a clear shot at the majors. A return to Korea can’t be ruled out, of course; indeed, a KBO club has made a four-year offer. While that will surely hold appeal, it seems Hwang is still hoping for a chance to play at the game’s highest level.
For San Francisco, the possibility of adding another corner outfielder or third baseman may make the team hesitant to commit. The Brewers already plugged in Travis Shaw at the hot corner, though presumably the right-handed-hitting Hwang could provide a complement (with both perhaps also factoring in at first base). As for the A.L. Central rivals in Detroit and Minnesota, third base appears to be set in both cases. But perhaps there’s some window for Hwang if he’s deemed capable of spending some time at second and one of those teams deal their incumbent options. Alternatively, perhaps, he could factor in the corner outfield.
It has been a tough market for third basemen, with Luis Valbuena and Trevor Plouffe among the players still looking for a job. There’s also a variety of veteran utility types with experience on the left side of the infield — including Aaron Hill, Kelly Johnson, and Stephen Drew — who have yet to sign.
Beyond the enticement of the unknown, Hwang has some possible advantages over some of those options. He won’t turn 30 until July and is coming off of a career year in the KBO. Finally combining both power and contact in a single season, Hwang popped 27 long balls with just 64 strikeouts over 522 plate appearances. He also swiped 24 bags, though he was cut down on ten other attempts.