Can He Play Left Field?
The San Francisco Giants are reportedly on the verge of signing South Korean Jae-gyun Hwang to a minor league deal that would pay Hwang $1.5 million if he makes the major league team, plus an as yet unannounced amount of incentives. If accurate, Hwang likely walked away from considerably more money (a likely four-year $8 million offer by his KBO team the Lotte Giants) to make his MLB dream come true.
Hwang played 3B and SS in South Korea’s KBO, but the Giants are already relatively deep at those positions. The question in my mind is could Hwang be the right-handed power bat who could help if he can play left field also?
In any event, it’s low cost move that could have some upside. However, despite the MLB interest this off-season, I haven’t seen much in Hwang’s KBO numbers that made me think he’s going to be the next Jung ho Kang.
Hwang’s 2016 season at age 28 was clearly his best in the KBO. However, his .970 OPS was still only 12th best in a hit-happy league, and he wasn’t in the top 20 in either 2014 or 2015.
Thus, if he hits in MLB, he’s likely to hit enough for a 3Bman or back-up shortstop, but not for a corner outfielder. The SF Giants still look into the possibility of signing Rickie Weeks as a potential fifth outfielder, if he can be signed cheaply.