The Toronto Blue Jays are looking to strengthen their ties with Korean baseball fans by signing Lee Jung-hoo (25-Kiwoom Heroes) after Ryu Hyun-jin (36).
U.S. media outlet The Athletic reported on Nov. 11 (KST), “With holes in its lineup, Toronto will focus on acquiring a beast this offseason. Toronto general manager Ross Atkins plans to bring in three to four bats in the market.”
Lee was mentioned as a candidate to fill Toronto’s center field void alongside Cody Bellinger, 28. The Athletic estimated Lee’s contract at four years and $56 million, saying, “Players coming from overseas leagues are a mystery because it’s hard to know what to make of their performance. But Lee is a capable center fielder who doesn’t have power, but makes quality contact and strikes out rarely.”
Lee joined the Nexen Heroes (now Kiwoom) with the first overall pick in the 2017 KBO Draft, and over the course of seven seasons, he has played in 884 games, batting .340 with 65 home runs, 515 RBI, 581 runs scored, 69 stolen bases, a .407 on-base percentage, a .491 slugging percentage, and a .898 OPS. He was especially well-regarded in the U.S., where he boasted an excellent plate discipline, drawing 383 walks while only striking out 304 times while playing center field. 무지개토토
It’s interesting to note that Ryu Hyun-jin and Korean fans were mentioned as reasons to acquire Lee. “Toronto spent four seasons with Ryu Hyun-jin and developed a strong bond with Korean baseball fans, and adding one of the best young hitters in the game could renew that connection,” The Athletic noted.
Toronto also made a special effort to connect with Korean baseball fans when it signed Ryu Hyun-jin to a four-year, $80 million free agent contract in 2020. At the time, it was the largest pitcher’s free agent contract in franchise history, and was hailed by local media as “a sign of Toronto’s intent to compete for a championship after a rebuild.