Former Hawks slugger Lee gets big league contract with Mariners


Lee Dae-ho, who hit 98 home runs over four seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball, signed a major league contract with the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.

Lee, who left the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks to join the Mariners on a minor league contract with an invite to spring training, appears to have won a role as the club’s backup first baseman.

“Dae-ho has the history of hitting left-handers and I think he’s given us reason to believe in spring training,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “He’s very prepared, very calm in the batter’s box and I think he’s gotten better every step of the way as we’ve gone along.

“It’s been a pleasant surprise — the defense and particularly the base running. He runs the bases really smart. His defense has been much better than we anticipated at first base and we do have confidence in his history of handling left-handed pitching, which is the role we’re trying to fill.”

Over two seasons with the Orix Buffaloes and two with the Hawks, Lee batted .293 with a .370 on-base percentage and a .486 slugging average.