Lee Latest Import For Mariners

SEATLLE—An unexpected candidate for the Mariners’ platoon partner with Adam Lind at first base has been added to the competition.

With no ideal candidate to fill that role, Seattle signed slugging Korean first baseman Dae-Ho Lee to a minor league contract with an invite to big league spring training. He’ll compete with Jesus Montero, Gaby Sanchez and Stefen Romero for the spot.

“Dae-Ho gives us another potential right-handed power bat in the first base competition,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “He has performed at a very high level of production in both Korea and Japan and we are excited to see how that translates to our team.”

The Mariners scouted Lee heavily at the Premier 12 in November in Tokyo with director of international scouting Tim Kissner and vice president of player personnel Tom Allison watching him in person.

Lee, who turns 34 in June, put up monster numbers last season for Fukuoka in Japan’s Pacific League. He hit .282 with a .892 OPS, 20 doubles, 31 homers and 98 RBIs in 141 games. He was also named the MVP of the Japan Series, leading Fukuoka to a win.

Before his move to Japan, Lee dominated the Korean Baseball Organization for 11 seasons. He was the MVP in 2010, a three-time batting champion, a two-time home run champ and a two-time RBI leader.

Lee is a striking presence, standing 6-foot-4 and appearing to weigh more than his listed weight of 280 pounds. But in preparation to sign with a Major League team, Lee has been working out the past few months at the Mariners’ complex in Peoria, Ariz. According to sources, he has shaved off a serious amount of weight to prepare for the transition. Reports varied between 25-40 pounds.

The Mariners won’t rush Lee if he doesn’t adjust to playing in the U.S. immediately and are comfortable starting him with Triple-A Tacoma.


• Shortstop prospect Drew Jackson spent his offseason at Stanford preparing for his first full season but also completing the 17 credits needed to complete his degree—a bachelor’s of arts in Science, Technology and Society.

• The Mariners signed Cuban infielder Dainer Moreira to a minor league contract. Moreira, 32, defected a year ago at the Caribbean World Series. The Mariners view Moreiera as a utility player with exceptional speed.

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