“I can’t forget the fans’ screams, please spend 24.6 billion for the players”… Lee Jung-hoo’s message to Kiwoom

“Grandson of the Wind” Lee Jung-hoo (San Francisco Giants), who returned to Korea with a big contract, expressed his gratitude to the Kiwoom Heroes fans. He also mentioned the players he played with in Kiwoom.

On March 13, local media in the United States, including MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, reported that Lee Jung-hoo and San Francisco agreed to a six-year, $113 million (approx. 14.8 billion won) contract.

After the two sides agreed to a contract, a physical examination was conducted, and San Francisco officially announced Lee’s signing two days later on the 15th. Details of the contract, including salary and signing bonus, were also released. Lee will earn $7 million in salary in 2024, $16 million in 2025, $22 million in 2026 and 2027, and $20.5 million in 2028 and 2029. The signing bonus is $5 million.

Lee and the Giants also included a charitable contribution component to the deal. According to the Giants, Lee will donate $60,000 in 2024, $80,000 in 2025, $110,000 in 2026 and 2027, and $125,000 in 2028 and 2029 through the Giants Community Fund.

“I think I’ve achieved my first goal, and now that I’ve achieved it, I think my second goal is to do well,” Lee said at a press conference at the arrivals hall of Incheon International Airport Terminal 2 on the 19th. “I’m honored to be going to a good team, San Francisco. The club has invested so much in me, so I think I have to play up to it,” he said of his big league debut.

Lee has been in the U.S. since late last month, focusing on personal workouts and negotiations, and put his stamp on the deal less than two weeks after the post went live. “I can’t go into too much detail, but I think I made the decision quickly because I feel so honored to play for a team with such a rich history,” he said.

In addition to his new team, San Francisco, Lee also expressed his love for Kiwoom, his former club. The two have played together for seven years since their professional debut in 2017, so it’s no wonder they mean so much to each other. Thanks to Lee’s play, Kiwoom reached the postseason for five consecutive years from 2018 to last year, finishing as runners-up in the Korean Series in 2019 and last year.

“I was so grateful (to Kiwoom fans) for seven years. Even when I was in the United States, I always watched the video of my last home game whenever I had time. I kept seeing the fans cheering and supporting me. I was so grateful, and I will always remember that support and cheer and keep it in my heart, and I will do my best in the United States, and I hope you will support me a lot because I will do well as a player from Heroes.”

Lee also expressed his gratitude to his teammate, “big league senior” Kim Ha-seong (San Diego Padres), saying, “(Kim) has been doing well since last year, so I think I’ve benefited from that, but I can’t ruin what he’s done, so I want to do my best and continue to leave a good impression of Korean baseball players, so I’ll take responsibility and work hard, because I think that will create a path for many players to challenge.

Lee also sent a message of support to Kim Hye-sung, who is following in his footsteps and pursuing her dream of making it to the big leagues. “I’m a friend of Hye-sung (Kim) who is also very greedy. If she prepares well this winter, I think she can apply for a post next year and get a good contract. If she doesn’t get injured and prepares well as she has been doing, she can get a good contract.”

It is also noteworthy that the signing of Lee Jung-hoo will bring Kiwoom a transfer fee of $18.82 million (approximately 24.6 billion won). Former Kiwoom players Kang Jeong-ho and Park Byung-ho, who made their way to the United States, crossed the Pacific Ocean with posting fees of $5.15 million and $12.85 million, respectively.

In Kim’s case, he reached the big leagues after the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) and Major League Baseball revised their posting agreement in 2018, and he signed a four-year, $28 million deal with San Diego. In total, Kiwoom earned $5.52 million in posting money.

“I don’t think it’s good (to receive posting money),” Lee said, “It’s enough now, but I wish the club would spend more for the players.”