Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto announced today that the club has signed Korean first baseman Dae-Ho Lee and catcher Steve Lerud to minor league contracts. Both players have been invited to Spring Training.
"Dae-Ho gives us another potential right-handed power bat in the first base competition," 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.
"In Steve's case, with the injury to Jesus Sucre we felt it was important to identify and sign another catcher with Major League experience to provide depth at a crucial position. Both players will be invited to Spring Training and given an opportunity to compete."
Lee, 33, spent the last four years playing in Japan with the Orix Buffaloes (2012-13) and the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks (2014-15). He spent 2015 with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in the Japan Pacific League, hitting .282 (144x510) with 68 runs, 30 doubles, 31 home runs, 98 RBI, a .368 on-base percentage and a .524 slugging percentage in 141 games. During his four seasons in Japan, he combined to hit .293 (622x2122) with 242 runs, 112 doubles, 2 triples, 98 home runs and 348 RBI in 570 games. Lee led the Japan Pacific League in RBI in 2012 and was a recipient of the 2012 Pacific League Best Nine Award (Japanese equivalent of Silver Slugger).
Lee spent the previous 11 seasons playing in Korea. He was the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) MVP in 2010, and was a four-time Golden Glove Award winner at first base (2006, 2007, 2011) and third base (2010). He is a three-time KBO batting champion (2006, 2010, 2011), two-time home run champion (2006, 2010), two-time RBI leader (2006, 2010), three-time slugging percentage leader (2006, 2007, 2010), two-time hits leader (2010, 2011), two-time on-base percentage leader (2010, 2011) and one-time OPS leader (2010). He was also a two-time KBO All-Star Game MVP (2005, 2008).
Lee has represented Korea in International competitions, including the Asian Games, the Olympics and the World Baseball Classic, for the past decade.
Lerud, 31, spent entire 2015 season with AAA Syracuse, hitting .238 (49x206) with 15 runs, 7 doubles, 2 home runs and 23 RBI in 60 games. He was on the 7-day disabled list July 8-16 with a left thumb contusion.
Lerud was originally drafted by Pittsburgh in the 3rd round of 2003 MLB First-Year Player Draft and has spent time in the Pittsburgh (2003-2009), Baltimore (2010-2011), Philadelphia (2012-13), Atlanta (2014) and Washington (2015) organizations, including appearing in the Majors with Philadelphia in 2012 and 2013.