Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Zaidi: Giants ‘monitoring' Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Jung Hoo Lee

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The Giants have their eyes on two of the biggest free agents this offseason.

San Francisco continues its evaluation of Japanese right-handed pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto and South Korean outfielder Jung Hoo Lee, who both are expected to be posted this offseason.

Giants general manager Pete Putila and vice president of pro scouting Zack Minasian recently traveled to Japan to scout Yamamoto, but they were far from the only team in attendance. On a recent episode of "Giants Talk," president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi referred to Yamamoto as "one of the top starting pitchers in the world" and has a "tremendous combination of athleticism, stuff and command."

Shortly after the Giants introduced Bob Melvin as the team's new manager on Wednesday, Zaidi joined NBC Sports Bay Area's Carlos Ramirez on a special edition broadcast of the press conference where he was asked about the team's potential interest in Yamamoto and Lee.

"Yeah, obviously players internationally who haven't been posted. Can't really comment on potential pursuits until they actually reach that point," Zaidi explained. "But we're doing homework on anybody who might be available this offseason. Obviously, the players you mentioned are two of the top players in their respective leagues and we're obviously monitoring what's happening with them and making sure we have our evaluations really really down."

In 2023 with the Orix Buffaloes, Yamamoto posted a 16-6 record with a microscopic 1.21 ERA and 169 strikeouts to 28 walks in 164 innings pitched. Some believe that the two-time Pacific Coast League MVP could land a $200-plus million contract with an MLB team this offseason.

The 25-year-old Lee is coming off an injury-shortened 2023 season in which he batted .318/.406/.455 with six home runs and 45 RBI in 86 games with the Kiwoom Heroes in the KBO League. However, in 2022, Lee slashed .349/.421/.575 with 23 home runs and 113 RBI in 142 games.

Lee will not command anywhere near the contract Yamamoto could, but still is expected to be one of the top free-agent outfielders this offseason.

With how frequently players from Eastern Asia are having success in MLB, Zaidi and the Giants could be willing to take on the risk of signing marquee international free agents.

"There are also a lot of players from Japan and South Korea coming over that have been successful the last few years whereas 10, 15 years ago there might have been a little bit more apprehension at that risk," Zaidi added. "I think there's enough of a track record now where if you do your homework you can have a lot of confidence in the contributions those players can make."

With Yamamoto and Lee expected to be posted in the coming weeks, Zaidi and the Giants will keep a close eye on the two stars as they begin what could be a huge offseason for the orange and black.

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