“If the Yankees are looking for a center fielder, acquiring Cody Bellinger in free agency is the most obvious solution,” the New York Post reported on Aug. 28. However, it is not easy for the Yankees to acquire Bellinger, who is highly sought after. In this situation, the New York Post introduced Jung-Hoo Lee as an alternative.
Bellinger is one of the hottest hitters in free agency this season. He made his big league debut in 2017 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He took the major leagues by storm in his first season, earning National League Rookie of the Year honors. In 2019, he won the National League Outfield Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, and MVP, and in 2020, he won the World Series in his fourth season.굿모닝토토 도메인
However, his performance plummeted shortly after his MVP season, and he was eventually released by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a non-tender after last season. After signing a one-year, short-term deal with the Chicago Cubs, Bellinger bounced back in 2023. In 130 games, he hit .307 with 26 home runs, 97 RBI, 95 runs scored, and an OPS of .881. At the end of his one-year deal, he declined his qualifying offer (QO) and hit free agency.
As a free agent, Bellinger is attracting interest from a number of teams. The San Francisco Giants, who are in need of outfield reinforcements, and the Yankees, who have been without a full-time outfielder this season, are among the favorites. However, with Bellinger’s availability uncertain, the Yankees are also interested in former Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier.
Another possible solution is Lee Jeong-hoo. In seven seasons in the KBO, Lee has hit .340 (3476-for-1181) with 65 home runs, 515 RBIs, 581 runs scored, 69 doubles, a .407 OPS and a .898 slugging percentage in 884 games. Last season, he set career highs, winning five batting titles and the league MVP. Defensively, Lee uses his quick feet to cover a lot of ground and can play all outfield positions.
Lee is on track to make it to the Major Leagues this offseason through the posting system. The Kiwoom Heroes accepted Lee’s request to be posted to the big leagues ahead of this season, and on Nov. 24, the KBO submitted the request to the Major League Baseball office. Lee is expected to be posted as early as late November or as late as early December.
The Yankees have shown a lot of interest in Lee. They’ve been linked to him consistently, and he wouldn’t cost much more than Bellinger. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman himself said at the Major League Baseball annual owners’ meetings that he would like to “add two outfielders.” Lee was mentioned as a possible candidate.
“Depending on what the Yankees want to add in the offseason and how they view Dominguez’s long-term position, there are secondary options,” said the New York Post, “and if the Yankees move Dominguez to left field, Lee could be an interesting center fielder.” Dominguez is the Yankees’ top prospect outfielder. Changing the position of a prospect who came up through the farm system would show that the Yankees are serious about signing Lee.
However, acquiring Lee won’t be easy. The San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox, and San Francisco are among the teams that want him. San Francisco, in particular, has made a passionate pitch for Lee, with scouts visiting him at spring training and general manager Pete Putilla watching his last game at Gocheok Dome. MLB TradeRumors also reported that “more teams will get involved as the posting progresses.”