clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Giants sign shortstop Hak-Ju Lee

The former top prospect will join his third organization

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

If it wasn't over when he was designated for assignment or when he was granted minor league free agency, the Hak-Ju Lee era with the Rays is now over, according to Baseball America's Matt Eddy.

Lee, 25, was acquired by the Rays from the Cubs nearly five years ago, along with Chris Archer, Brandon Guyer, Sam Fuld and Robinson Chirinos, in the trade that sent Matt Garza, Fernando Perez and Zac Rosscup to Chicago.

Along with Archer, Lee was considered to be the centerpiece of that trade. As it stands now, he is the only player in the deal who has not reached the majors.

Immediately after being acquired, the athletic shortstop enjoyed a breakout season with Class A-Advanced Charlotte. In 97 games, he batted .318 with a .389 on-base percentage and stole 28 bases before being promoted to Double A and struggling to close his season.

Baseball America ranked him as the No. 44 prospect in baseball entering 2012, but he had another underwhelming season. Despite a 46-game on-base streak that saw him hit .308 with a .823 OPS, he finished the season with a .261 average and .336 OBP.

Of course, most of Lee's value came from his defense and athleticism. However, that was put in jeopardy just weeks into the 2013 season with Triple-A Durham when he sustained ligament damage on a takeout slide by future Giants hero Travis Ishikawa. Lee's season was over.

Upon his return, Lee was never the same player. In 204 career games with Durham, including 15 very good ones before the injury, he was a career .226 hitter with a .313 OBP. In his first season back, he stole just 12 bases in 17 attempts, but he did improve his total to 20 in 2015.

It was previously reported that along with the Giants, the Dodgers and White Sox were interested in signing Lee. Had he signed with Los Angeles, he would have reunited with Andrew Friedman, the executive that brought Lee to the Rays from Chicago.

With the Giants, Lee will hope for a utility role. San Francisco just signed All-Star shortstop Brandon Crawford to an extension, and it also appears set with Joe Panik and Matt Duffy at second and third base, respectively.

Also of note from Eddy's report is the signing of pitcher Albert Suarez. The righty is also a former Ray, pitching with the organization from 2008 to 2014. In 2015, he posted a 2.63 earned-run average in 163 innings with Arkansas, the Angels' Double-A affiliate.