SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have agreed to a deal with Korean free-agent third baseman Jae-gyun Hwang on a Minor League contract with an invitation to big league Spring Training, general manager Bobby Evans officially confirmed Tuesday.
Hwang, 29, is coming off his best professional season, recording a slash line of .330/.391/.558 with 26 home runs and 104 RBIs in 118 games last year with the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization. He also stole 24 bases in 34 tries. His career slash line in 10 seasons is .285/.349/.433 with 114 homers.
Hwang’s deal will be worth $1.5 million if he makes San Francisco’s Opening Day roster. The right-handed-batting Hwang conceivably could platoon with left-handed-batting Conor Gillaspie, thus freeing Eduardo Nunez, last year’s primary third baseman for the Giants, to fill a utility role.
The Giants passed up Major League free agents such as Luis Valbuena and Trevor Plouffe. However, San Francisco’s payroll is projected to exceed the $195 million competitive balance tax threshold, forcing the club to consider economical alternatives. As an unrestricted free agent, Hwang won’t have a posting fee stapled to his price tag.
Hwang will attempt to join the recent influx of Korean players in the Majors, which includes Pittsburgh infielder Jung Ho Kang, Minnesota designated hitter-first baseman Byungho Park, Baltimore outfielder Hyun Soo Kim and former Seattle first baseman Dae-Ho Lee.