Breaking News: Jung Ho Kang has Acquired a Work Visa

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

After over a year of fighting for it, Jung Ho Kang has finally acquired a new work visa

During the 2015 and 2016 seasons there was no Pittsburgh Pirates hitter that was better than Jung Ho Kang. After taking Major League Baseball by storm the Korean slugger appeared to be on his way to superstardom.

However, a string of bad decisions put his baseball career on hold. After being charged with multiple DUIs in his native South Korea, Kang failed to acquire a work visa causing him to miss the entire 2017 season. Due to this, it appeared his Major League career was over.

This continued in the offseason when the Pirates acquired third baseman Colin Moran as a centerpiece of the Gerrit Cole trade. At this point, it appeared the Pirates had given up hope of ever getting Kang back.

However, this has all changed. On Thursday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Pirates learned that Kang has been granted a new work visa and that he will now rejoin the team in the coming days.

That’s right, Pirate fans, Jung Ho Kang is (soon to be) back!

While it would be unreasonable to expect Kang to immediately rejoin the Pirates this is the first step toward that happening. He will first need a minor league rehab stint, and potentially a lengthy one as it will serve as his Spring Training. It will also be the first time he has faced professional pitching in the United States since October 2016.

Jung Ho Kang can be a huge shot in the arm for the 14-11 Pirates. During the 2015 and 2016 seasons Kang owned a .210 ISO, .355 on-base percentage, .362 wOBA, a 129 wRC+, and his fWAR was 5.8. Kang ranked third on the Pirates behind Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte in fWAR during these two seaons, while leading the team in wOBA and wRC+ during this stretch.

If Kang can be half the hitter he was in 2015 and 2016, that’s a massive boost for any team.

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It will also be interesting to see what the Pirates do with Kang when he returns. The aforementioned Colin Moran is off to a strong start this season at third base owning a .354 on-base percentage, .344 wOBA, and a 118 wRC+. So, do not be surprised if you see the Pirates try Kang at second base when he rejoins the big club.