The Pirates have signed Korean infielder Jung-ho Kang have agreed to terms on a four-year deal with a fifth-year option, the team has announced. Kang is represented by Octagon’s Alan Nero.
Kang’s former club, the Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization, announced recently that the 2014 KBO MVP was flying to Pittsburgh to take a physical this week, and Nero himself told reporters last week that he expected an agreement to be reached with the club this week. Kang had reportedly been seeking about $5MM per year on a four-year deal, so it appears that Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington and his staff were able to talk Kang and Nero down a bit.
The 27-year-old Kang (28 in April) is coming off an incredible season with the Heroes in which he batted .356/.459/.739 batting line and 40 home runs in 117 games between the regular season and the playoffs. Though KBO is notoriously hitter-friendly, those numbers still garnered quite a bit of attention from big league clubs, even though some were clearly skeptical, as Pittsburgh’s $5,002,015 winning bid for the negotiation rights was relatively modest.
Kang has been part of a lot of media buzz since his departure from Korea when translations were made that if given the right amount of playing time, he could beat out Jordy Mercer for the starting SS position. However, conflicting reports have said that Kang was referring to his confidence in ability to play for the Pirates as a starter and his position preference would be shortstop.
Expect a ton of buzz around Pirates spring training this year from Korean media who will be all over following Kang’s progress throughout the entire season and hopefully for many seasons to come.