Pirates likely to announce deal with Jung-ho Kang this week
By Jake Misener
According to a report from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the agent for Korean infielder Jung-ho Kang, Alan Nero, expects his client and the Pittsburgh Pirates to announce a deal in the coming week – less than a month after the team won the bidding for negotiating rights with the power-hitting second baseman.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports initially broke the news that the two sides are nearing agreement, which is believed to be for four years. Kang is reportedly seeking a four-year deal in the $5 million annual range. Last season, in addition to his strong power numbers, the infielder – who primarily played shortstop in Korea – also drove in 117 runs in 117 games, in an admittedly hitter-friendly league.
Recently, we detailed the latest news regarding Kang – which, at that point in time, was similar to what Nero said this week. Kang’s camp fully expected the two sides to come to terms on a deal – which has apparently only grown more true in the past few days.
"At this point, I feel confident we’ll come to an agreement. The process has been very positive. [General manager] Neal [Huntington] has tried very hard to basically come to the table with an offer."
Last season, the slugger led the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) with 40 home runs; over the past three seasons, he’s been trending upwards, hitting at least 22 home runs in each campaign. With the Pirates already with the combination of Jordy Mercer and Neil Walker, Kang’s role moving forward in Pittsburgh remains unclear.
Walker has a back injury that has been a concern, but he’s emerged as one of the better offensive options in the National League at second base. Mercer, meanwhile, has also put together decent success of late, seemingly creating a logjam for Kang in 2015 and beyond.
It now appears that it’s now a matter of ‘when,’ not ‘if’ the Pirates get their man.