(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lede; UPGRADES attribution)
By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Jan. 25 (Yonhap) -- The reigning South Korean baseball MVP Lee Jung-hoo has hired Scott Boras as his U.S. agent ahead of a potential jump to the majors, an informed industry source said Wednesday.
The source, requesting anonymity, told Yonhap News Agency that Lee, star outfielder for the Kiwoom Heroes in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), hired Boras Corp. to represent him, confirming an earlier report by New York Post columnist Jon Heyman.
Boras, founder of his namesake company, is an uber-agent who represents some of the biggest names in Major League Baseball (MLB). His clientele includes MVPs and Cy Young Award winners, such as Bryce Harper, Jose Altuve, Cody Bellinger, Max Scherzer and Blake Snell. Boras also represents Ryu Hyun-jin, a South Korean starter for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Lee captured the 2022 KBO regular season MVP in a landslide. He led the league in five major hitting categories: batting average (.349), hits (193), RBIs (113), on-base percentage (.421) and slugging percentage (.575). Among all KBO hitters with at least 3,000 plate appearances, Lee has the highest career batting average with .342.
Lee was named the Heroes' new captain last week, but he will likely serve in that role just for this year, since he is set to be posted for major league clubs after the 2023 season.
Domestically, Lee is represented by Esther Lee, founder and CEO of Leeco Sports Agency also certified by MLB Players Association (MLBPA). She previously sent three clients to the majors: Kim Hyun-soo (Baltimore Orioles), Kang Jung-ho (Pittsburgh Pirates) and Park Byung-ho (Minnesota Twins).
Kim signed as a free agent, while Kang and Park both went through posting. On each occasion, the players worked with U.S.-based agents.
Boras also represented South Korean outfielder Na Sung-bum, who was posted by the NC Dinos after the 2020 season, but couldn't find him a deal. Na later signed with another KBO club, Kia Tigers.
It had been the worst-kept secret for a few years that Lee Jung-hoo would try to knock on the big league doors as soon as he became eligible for posting, after completion of his seventh full season in 2023. Lee made the first official declaration of his intent to play in the majors in December. Then at the start of the new year, the Heroes said they would grant Lee his wish and post him after the 2023 season.
Lee will have his first international showcase following that announcement at the World Baseball Classic starting in March.