Mariners reportedly agree with Korean slugger
Jerry Dipoto’s search for a right-handed hitting first baseman to platoon with Adam Lind appears to have turned international as the Mariners reportedly have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with Korean slugger Dae-Ho Lee.
The Mariners have not commented or confirmed reports out of Korea, but it is believed any potential deal would be a Minor League contract with an invitation to big-league camp later this month.
The reports, which originated from Korean baseball writer and commentator Min Hook-ki and were picked up by the Korean Times, indicate Lee has agreed to a deal that could pay up to $4 million with incentives if he makes the Major League club.
The reports also indicate Lee is scheduled for a physical exam on Thursday in Seattle. The Mariners never confirm any contract agreement until a player passes his physical.
Lee, 33, put up a .282/.368/.524 line with 31 home runs and 98 RBIs in 141 games last year for SoftBank in Japan’s Nippon Professional League. He’s played in Japan the past four seasons after opening his career with 10 seasons in Korea.
One of Dipoto’s remaining pursuits this offseason has been to find a first-base partner to go with Lind, a lefty who excels against right-handed pitching. Converted catcher Jesus Montero is the primary right-handed option at this point, but he is out of Minor League options and still has questions about his defensive abilities at first base.
The Mariners have also signed right-handed hitting veteran Gaby Sanchez to a Minor League deal and Dipoto has talked of using outfielder Stefen Romero, who played second base at Oregon State, at first base some this spring as well.
The 6-foot-4, 286-pound Lee could give the Mariners another option with intriguing offensive potential. Lee became a free agent after leading Softbank to the NPB championship over Central League champion Tokyo Yakult Swallows, when he became the first Korean-born player to be named Most Valuable Player of the Japan Series.