KBO Requests MLB to Post Star Outfielder Lee Jung-hoo

South Korean Baseball Prodigy Set for Major League Debut,.

by Nouman Rasool
KBO Requests MLB to Post Star Outfielder Lee Jung-hoo
© Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

In a significant development in international baseball, the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) has officially reached out to Major League Baseball (MLB) to initiate the posting of South Korean sensation Lee Jung-hoo, thereby paving the way for his potential entry into the American big leagues.

The 25-year-old outfielder, a star in his home country, could soon showcase his talent globally, with all 30 MLB clubs allowed to negotiate for his services. The process was set in motion when Lee's KBO team, the Kiwoom Heroes, forwarded his medical records to the KBO on Wednesday.

After a thorough review, the KBO formally requested the MLB Commissioner's Office to announce Lee's availability to the MLB franchises. MLB anticipates commencing the official procedure by early December due to the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

Under the existing KBO-MLB agreement, MLB teams have a 30-day window to negotiate a contract once a player is posted. This period begins at 8 a.m. Eastern Time the day after MLB notifies its clubs and ends at 5 p.m. ET on the 30th day.

However, if a player fails to secure a deal within this timeframe, he cannot be posted again until after the subsequent season, meaning Lee would have to wait until November 1, 2024, for another chance.

Lee's Historic Batting Prowess

Lee, the reigning 2022 KBO MVP, has recently attracted considerable attention from MLB scouts.

His remarkable .340 career batting average is the highest in KBO history among players with at least 3,000 plate appearances. His prowess at the plate is further highlighted by his impressive strike zone control and a remarkable record of more walks (383) than strikeouts (304) in 884 games.

The 2022 season saw Lee deliver an extraordinary performance, leading the KBO in several critical categories, including batting average (.349), hits (193), RBIs (113), on-base percentage (.421), and slugging percentage (.575), culminating in his first MVP award.

Speculation is rife that MLB teams such as the San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees have shown interest in Lee, who is also the son of KBO legend Lee Jong-beam. Reports indicate that up to 20 MLB teams may be vying for the young star, represented by renowned agent Scott Boras.

The Kiwoom Heroes have a history of transitioning players to the MLB through posting, with infielders Kang Jung-ho, Park Byung-ho, and Kim Ha-seong having previously leaped. The financial implications for KBO teams in such transactions are significant.

The releasing team receives a fee based on the guaranteed value of the player's MLB contract. This fee varies: 20 percent for contracts up to $25 million, a tiered percentage for contracts between $25 million and $50 million, and a combination of fixed and percentage-based fees for contracts exceeding $50 million.

Lee Jung-hoo's imminent posting not only represents a personal milestone but also underscores the growing interconnectivity and talent exchange between the KBO and MLB, reflecting the increasingly global nature of baseball.