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Mets Sign South Korean DH/1B Ji-Man Choi to Minor League Deal

 Matt Tallarini  |    Feb 17th, 2024 2:12pm EST

Ji Man Choi of the San Diego Padres hits a RBI double in the first inning off Mike Clevinger of the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on September 30, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

South Korean designated hitter Ji-Man Choi signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets, the team announced on Saturday. 


Naver Sports from South Korea reported on Feb. 17 that Choi’s contract could max out at $3.5 million if Choi hits all his performance bonuses. Choi’s contract includes an invitation to big league camp and an opt-out.

Choi, 32, was born in Incheon, South Korea, and has played eight seasons in Major League Baseball, appearing with the Los Angeles Angels in 2016, the New York Yankees in 2017, the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018, the Tampa Bay Rays from 2018-22, the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2023, and the San Diego Padres in 2023. 

Choi elected free agency from the Padres on Nov. 2, 2023 prior to signing with the Mets. 

Last season, Choi started the season in Pittsburgh and landed on the 10-day injured list on Apr. 15 after straining his left achilles tendon. Choi was later transferred from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day injured list on Apr. 23. He played in 23 games with the Pirates, batting .206 with 15 hits, four doubles, six home runs, 11 RBI, two walks, and 27 strikeouts. 

Choi was activated from the 60-day injured list on June 22 and assigned to Double-A Altoona. He played in three games with Altoona, hitting .250 with two hits, one double, one walk and one strikeout before being promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis on June 28. 

Choi played in six games with Indianapolis, hitting .348 with eight hits, one triple, three home runs, nine RBI, five walks, and seven strikeouts before being activated from the 60-day injured list on July 7. 

On Aug. 1, Choi was traded to San Diego with left-handed pitcher Rich Hill in exchange for left-handed pitcher Jackson Wolf, first baseman Alfonso Rivas and outfielder Estuar Suero. 

Choi was placed on the 10-day injured list on Aug. 14, with a left rib cage strain, and was activated on Sept. 5 for a rehab assignment with Triple-A El Paso. Choi played in seven games for El Paso, hitting .160, with four hits, one double, one RBI, four walks, and seven strikeouts before being activated from the 10-day injured list on Sept. 15. 

In 16 games with San Diego, Choi batted .065 with two hits, one double, two RBI, eight walks, and eight strikeouts during the second half of the 2023 season. 

In 2022, Choi played in 113 games with Tampa Bay, batting .233 in 419 plate appearances with 83 hits, 22 doubles, 11 home runs, 52 RBI, 58 walks, 123 strikeouts, and a .729 OPS before he was traded to Pittsburgh on Nov. 10, 2022, in exchange for right-handed pitcher Jack Hartman.

During his eight seasons in MLB, Choi has played in 525 games with a career average of .234, 367 hits, 93 doubles, three triples, 67 home runs, 238 RBI, 241 walks, 476 strikeouts, and a .764 OPS. 

Choi will be competing with Mark Vientos, DJ Stewart, and Joey Wendle for opportunities to fill in the lineup as the designated hitter or as a backup at first base. Choi has been used exclusively as a DH and first baseman since 2019, although he played 17 games in left field in 2016 with the Angels and one game in left with Milwaukee in 2018.

The Mets will play their first game of spring training as a split-squad game against the St. Louis Cardinals at home at Port St. Lucie, Fla. on Feb. 24 at 1:10 p.m. EST at Clover Park. The Mets first full squad workout is on Feb. 19.