Juan Soto’s impending trade has changed the game. An unlikely team came out of the woodwork. It’s the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball (MLB).레모나토토 도메인
On December 7 (KST), after reporting that San Diego’s starting outfielders Juan Soto and Trent Grisham were being traded to the New York Yankees, MLB Network reporter John Heyman took to social media to say, “There is talk of South Korean infielder Lee Jung-hoo,” and that “San Diego could be a potential destination for Lee.” He went on to say, “The Padres could be a potential destination for Lee in 2024.
“Lee is projected to cost less than Soto in 2024, is a solid defensive player, and is expected to make good contact in the majors. It will be interesting to see how he performs at the MLB level.”
The prospect of San Diego pursuing Lee has been a long time coming. San Diego general manager A.J. Preller, who led the signing of Kim Ha-seong, was said to be eyeing Lee to rewrite the success story of signing players from the KBO. However, it was the composition of San Diego’s team that made it difficult to dare such a prediction. The Padres had Soto, Grisham, and the infield-turned-outfield Fernando Tatis Jr.
But things changed quickly. San Diego is reportedly working on a major trade that would send Soto and Grisham to the Yankees for four pitchers and a catcher. According to MLB.com, “only minor steps remain, including a medical exam,” so it makes sense that the Padres would be interested in Lee, having already had fun with Ha-Sung Kim.
“The Padres are rumored to be looking to trade Juan Soto to free up payroll flexibility,” writes John Heyman. Freeing up the money that was supposed to go to Soto would help round out the team’s roster. The pitchers the Padres would acquire in a potential deal with the Yankees would bolster their pitching staff in both the rotation and bullpen, while also potentially adding a catcher.”
However, it remains to be seen if the final move to San Diego will happen. There is a huge wall in the form of the San Francisco Giants. The Giants went all-in in free agency. They approached Shohei Ohtani, but are now focusing more on Yoshinomu Yamamoto, Imanaga, and Jung-Hoo Lee. San Francisco general manager Pete Putteler traveled to Seoul’s Gocheok SkyDome in October to see Lee in action.
San Francisco manager Bob Melvin, who has kept Kim in San Diego through the 2023 season, recently mentioned Lee’s name at the Winter Meetings and said the team needs a new outfielder. At this point, San Diego and San Francisco are expected to be in a fierce battle for his services.
That’s not bad news for Lee. After all, when there’s competition, the price is bound to rise. Initially, Lee’s price tag was in the $50 million range, but now it’s rising to $60 million and even $70 million. Lee is free to negotiate with all 30 MLB teams until January 4 at 7 a.m. KST.