Jung Ho Kang remains on Major League Baseball’s restricted list
The Jung Ho Kang saga has taken another twist. According to Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Kang is receiving help from the Major League Baseball Player’s Association in his efforts to be granted a work visa.
Jung Ho Kang was unable to get a work visa this past offseason. This was due to him receiving his third DUI this past offseason in his native South Korea. Kang received an 8-month suspended prison sentence as a result of his DUI.
After an appeal by Kang, his suspended sentence was upheld in May. This further lessened the chances of Kang joining the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017. With his issues, Kang has been on the restricted list all season.
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said on Tuesday that his office has been attempting to assist Kang in receiving his work visa. Player’s Union executive director Tony Clark has been trying to help Kang as well, Manfred said.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have undoubtedly missed Jung Ho Kang’s presence this season. There is no telling how much better the Pirates would be with Kang. Since making his Major League debut in 2015, Jung Ho Kang has been one of the Pirates’ best player.
Jung Ho Kang owns a 136 wRC+, .362 wOBA, and a .210 ISO in his Major League career. All of these numbers led the Pirates from the time he debuted in 2015, through the end of the 2016 season. Furthermore, his 6.2 fWAR during this stretch was third on the team behind Starling Marte (7.2) and Andrew McCutchen (6.5).
Odds are, there is zero chance Jung Ho Kang returns to the Pirates in 2017. At this point, Kang and the Pirates should have a primary focus of getting him back in the fold for 2018. Getting Kang back, rather it be this year or next, would go a long way toward making the Pirates a postseason team once again.