First baseman Dae-ho Lee who has played in both South Korea and Japan might be joining an MLB team before the start of the season, with the speculated interested parties being the St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Seattle Mariners, but little is known about the teams he’s been in contact with.
Lee played for the Lotte Giants in the KBO from 2001 to 2011 before moving to Japan, playing for the Orix Buffaloes before switching to the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. The right handed batsman still has plenty of power, hitting 31 home runs in 2015 while batting .282 with an OPS of .892. Most importantly, he was the Japan series MVP in 2015, winning championship with the Hawks for a second straight season.
At 33, Lee is probably limited to playing first base or being a designated hitter, obviously depending on which League he ends up playing in. But with him looking for a one-year deal and nothing more, it’s not going to be too much of a risk to add him, especially when his skillset doesn’t seem to be something that MLB teams don’t need. Power? Accuracy? They’ll live with so-so defense.
Lee, 6’4 on a 286 pounds frame, trained with his former team the Lotte Giants recently in Arizona, but didn’t come back home, staying in the United States to try and see if he can land a deal. Lee met with a number of teams during the winter meetings last month in Nashville, with the Pirates rumored to be his strongest suitors, but having Mike Morse and adding Jason Rogers could mean they’re over him.
As for the other teams that could be suitable options, the Astros seem to be team with the biggest need at first base while he can also play DH for them. Jon Singleton isn’t unmovable, and they probably feel A.J. Reed isn’t quite ready. The Cardinals could make him part of a platoon with Brandon Moss and Mike Adams while hoping he provides the power they’ve been searching for all offseason while the Mariners, another AL team, could pair him up with Adam Lind.
He batted .309 with 225 home runs during his decade in South Korea with the Giants. Through his four seasons in Japan, he’s hit 98 home runs while batting .293 and maintaining an OPS of .816 or higher in each season.