11:30am: Lee and reliever Woo Suk Go have both been officially posted, per Alden González of ESPN. The posting window for each starts tomorrow at 7am Central and goes until 4pm on January 3. It was reported a few weeks ago that Go would likely be posted for MLB clubs.
2:12am: The Kiwoom Heroes of the KBO will post Jung Hoo Lee today, the team announced (as reported by Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News). MLB clubs will have a 30-day window to negotiate with the South Korean star, beginning on Tuesday, December 5 at 7:00 am CT.
Lee is expected to sign a multi-year deal, with the MLBTR prediction coming in at five years and $50MM. In addition, the MLB team that signs him will owe the Heroes a posting fee, calculated as 20% of the first $25MM in his contract, 17.5% of the next $25MM, and 15% of any additional salary. Therefore, if Lee signs for $50MM exactly, his posting fee will total another $9.375MM. That’s no small number, but it’s hard to imagine it would scare off any serious contenders for his services.
After all, Lee is widely considered one of the best position players available in free agency; he ranked 15th on the MLBTR Top 50 Free Agents list. While it can be difficult to predict how hitters from foreign leagues will adjust to MLB pitching, the young outfielder’s resume is impossible to ignore.
A five-time winner of the Golden Glove Award, given annually to the top overall player at each position, the 25-year-old has slashed .340/.407/.491 with 65 home runs and 69 stolen bases across seven seasons in the KBO. He plays all three outfield positions, including center field, but it is his hit tool that has already brought him so much success in his young career. Lee has never hit below .318 in a season, batting as high as .360 in his 2022 MVP campaign.
Even in an injury-shortened 2023 season, Lee posted an .860 OPS and a 139 wRC+ in 86 games. Some MLB suitors might be concerned by the ankle injury that cost him the final few months of the KBO calendar, but there is currently no reason to believe he won’t be ready for spring training. Thus, he will surely draw widespread interest over the next 30 days given his youth and consistently excellent performance throughout his professional career. As of mid-November, Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported that 20 different teams were keeping tabs on Lee. Those known to be interested include the Yankees, Giants, Padres, and Mets.