“San Diego needs to make a big swing in the outfield, whether it’s a trade candidate like Anthony Santander (Baltimore Orioles) or pursuing KBO star Lee Jeong-hoo (Kiwoom) as a free agent.”
The San Diego Padres are in a precipitous situation ahead of the offseason. The American media’s view is that if the policy of reducing team payroll from about $250 million to $200 million is pushed forward, trading key players is inevitable.
Juan Soto, who came to San Diego after rejecting the Washington Nationals’ 15-year, $440 million (approximately 589.8 billion won) contract extension ahead of the 2022 trade deadline, appears certain to be traded. There are many views that he should be paid an annual salary of $30 million next year alone, and furthermore, it is predicted that he will want an extension contract worth at least $400 million. He must find it difficult to accept San Diego’s pay cut policy.
For San Diego, it is best to trade Soto just before next year’s trade deadline rather than lose him and end up empty-handed in the 2024-2025 free agent market. If you’re making a trade, the offseason is the right time to do it when demand is high. However, he pointed out that if San Diego gave up Soto, it would have to provide compensation in return.
San Diego had Trent Grisham and Jose Ajoca in the center outfield this year, but their batting was not good. Thanks to left fielder Soto and right fielder Fernando Tatisu Jr., it was only less noticeable. However, it is clear that parting ways with Soto will result in poor outfield production, and it is believed that an alternative is needed.
MLB Trade Rumors said on the 11th (Korean time), “Since Tatis has adapted well to right field, you can consider moving him to center field and selling Grisham. At that point, you need to get another bat from the opposite corner. “If we trade Soto, we have to make a bigger swing in the outfielder market, whether by trading Santander or pursuing KBO star Jeong-hoo Lee as a free agent.”
The 2023-2024 free agent market is a starting pitcher market. If a team needs an outfielder, it may be worth considering recruiting Lee Jeong-hoo at a reasonable price. Lee Jung-hoo will not be a huge burden for a team with a pay cut policy like San Diego. This means that if Soto is traded, Lee Jeong-hoo and Kim Ha-seong could reunite in San Diego.
Of course, MLB Trade Rumors pointed out that San Diego, like Soto, is likely to trade Kim Ha-seong, who has one year remaining as a free agent. It was said that Kim Ha-seong’s ransom would definitely rise in a year, so he could settle it in advance. However, it was also pointed out that if Kim Ha-seong, who has a four-year guarantee of $28 million, is liquidated, the negative impact on power could be greater than the pay cut effect.
‘Korean Express’ Park Chan-ho visited Kiwoom’s Arizona spring camp in February and said that San Diego is continuously paying attention to Lee Jung-hoo. He also confessed that he was working for the club as a special advisor and that he had actually told people at the club about Lee Jeong-hoo.
At this point, the San Francisco Giants are the main players in the race to recruit Lee Jeong-hoo. On the 10th, general manager Pete Furilla sensed that Lee Jeong-hoo could make his comeback against Samsung in Gocheok and visited him in person. San Diego is relatively quiet, but no one knows the outcome of the recruitment war until the free agent market opens.
If Soto leaves San Diego and Lee Jung-hoo goes to the San Diego outfield, and if he gets together with his best friend Kim Ha-seong, it will be a big topic in many ways. If Lee Jung-hoo signs with San Diego, her official debut will likely take place on March 20th next year at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. Will he make his San Diego debut at the home stadium of Kiwoom, where he played for 7 years? And wearing the same uniform as Kim Ha-seong? This is not just a rumor.