SEATTLE – Pending free agent Dae-Ho Lee says playing time will be an important consideration once he enters the free-agent market, which could be an impediment to reaching a new deal with the Mariners.
“Early on, it was fun to come off the bench to pinch hit,” Lee told The Korea Times and other reporters Monday after returning to South Korea, “but it started to hurt my pride late.”
Lee, 34, batted .253 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs in 104 games this season while serving primarily as the right-handed-hitting portion of a platoon arrangement at first base with left-handed-hitter Adam Lind.
While Lind is also a pending free agent, the Mariners have already indicated they plan to give rookie Dan Vogelbach, a left-handed hitter acquired last July in a trade with the Chicago Cubs, a long look at first base in spring training.
“My manager (Scott Servais) told me he’d like to have me for next year,” Lee told reporters after landing at Incheon International Airport. “Playing time is an important factor to consider when choosing a team.”
Lee and Lind and five other Mariners will officially become free agents this week – one day after the conclusion of the World Series.
Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto previously confirmed the club’s interest in pursuing a new deal with Lee in part because there are few viable right-handed platoon options available either within the organization or in the free-agent market.
Lee was a star in Korea and Japan over 15 seasons before signing a one-year, minor-league deal last February with the Mariners that permitted him to become a free agent after the season.
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