Lee Jung-hoo of the San Francisco Giants waves at the cameras after arriving at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, Tuesday. Yonhap

One of the best players in South Korean baseball for the past seven seasons, outfielder Lee Jung-hoo returned home Tuesday as a San Francisco Giant, with a lucrative multiyear contract in tow and his childhood dream fulfilled. The former Kiwoom Heroes star landed at Incheon International Airport, just west of Seoul, on Tuesday evening, after being introduced as the latest member of the Giants on Friday afternoon at Oracle Park in San Francisco. The 25-year-old signed a six-year, US$113 million contract Thursday, with an opt-out clause after his fourth season in 2027 that would allow him to become a free agent at 29.It is the largest contract given to a South Korean player leaving the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) for Major League Baseball (MLB) via posting. It is also the biggest deal for a free agent position player in Giants history. Lee was also the first new Giants player to be introduced in the flesh at their home park since January 2018.Lee told reporters at the airport he first began dreaming of playing in MLB while at elementary school. Watching South Korea win the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics further fueled Lee’s drive.

“I think I’ve just realized the first part of my dream,” Lee said. “My next goal is to actually play well in the majors.” Lee was named the KBO’s Rookie of the Year in 2017 and then its most valuable player in 2022, when he led the league in batting average (.349), hits (193), RBIs (113), on-base percentage (.421) and slugging percentage (.575).Lee is leaving the KBO with a .340 career batting average, the highest mark among all players with at least 3,000 plate appearances. Across 3,947 appearances in 884 games, Lee drew 383 walks and struck out 304 times, while posting a career .407 on-base percentage. Lee had more walks and strikeouts in five of his seven seasons in the KBO. After completing seven seasons in the KBO, Lee became eligible for posting for MLB clubs. He went public with his desire to play in the majors following the 2022 season, and the Heroes agreed in January 2023 that they would post him after the conclusion of the 2023 campaign. Lee was posted on Dec. 5 and faced a 30-day negotiating period that would end on Jan. 3. But the Giants wasted little time going after the South Korean star. Reports of his deal first emerged last Tuesday, and it was announced Thursday after Lee passed his physical.

Lee’s deal far exceeded expectations among U.S.-based pundits, who had pegged Lee’s value at around $50 million. Lee admitted he was so thrilled with the Giants’ offer that “my knees buckled a bit” when he first heard the figures. “It’s an honor to join such a prestigious organization,” Lee said. “Since they’ve invested so much money in me, I want to live up to their expectations with my play on the field. “Prior to his visit to Oracle Park, Lee said he had only been to one other major league park, Chase Field in Phoenix, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, during spring training ealier this year. He said he was simply in awe of the Giants’ home stadium. “When I stepped onto the field, the only thing I could think of was just how huge and majestic the stadium was,” Lee said. “It’s one of the most beautiful ballparks in America, and it just felt like a major league 카지노사이트킹 stadium

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