Lee Jung-hoo Arrives in Incheon as a San Francisco Giant, Realizing Childhood Dream

INCHEON, South Korea - After seven standout seasons in South Korean baseball, outfielder Lee Jung-hoo has achieved a major milestone in his career, returning home on Tuesday as a player for the San Francisco Giants. His return follows the recent signing of a significant multiyear contract with the MLB team.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Lee, formerly a star with the Kiwoom Heroes, landed at Incheon International Airport on Tuesday evening, just days after his introduction as a Giants player at Oracle Park in San Francisco. The 25-year-old's six-year contract, valued at US$113 million and including an opt-out clause after four seasons, is a landmark deal both for a South Korean player transitioning from the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) to Major League Baseball (MLB) and for the Giants in terms of free agent position players.

This contract represents the largest ever offered to a South Korean player moving from the KBO to MLB and is also the biggest free agent deal in Giants history. Moreover, Lee is the first new Giants player since January 2018 to be introduced at their home park.

Upon arrival at the airport, Lee shared with reporters his long-held dream of playing in MLB, a dream that began in elementary school and was fueled by South Korea's gold medal win at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. "I think I've just realized the first part of my dream," Lee remarked. "My next goal is to actually play well in the majors."

Lee's impressive KBO record includes being named Rookie of the Year in 2017 and MVP in 2022. He led the league last year in several key batting statistics. With a career batting average of .340, the highest among players with at least 3,000 plate appearances, Lee has demonstrated remarkable consistency and discipline, often recording more walks than strikeouts.

After completing seven seasons in the KBO, Lee expressed his desire to play in the majors, and the Heroes agreed to post him following the 2023 season. The Giants swiftly pursued Lee, finalizing the deal after he passed his physical.

Reflecting on the contract offer from the Giants, Lee expressed his excitement and sense of honor at joining such a prestigious team. He also spoke of his awe upon visiting Oracle Park, praising its grandeur and beauty as one of America's most beautiful ballparks.

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