Pirates Reportedly Agree With Jung-Ho Kang on Four-Year Deal

According to Jim Bowden, the Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to a four-year deal with Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang. The contract is also said to have an option year, making it a possible five-year deal. Bowden puts the price tag at approximately $16 M. The deal is pending a physical, which will reportedly happen on Thursday. More on this as details are made available.

  • I know my Dad can beat up all your Dads. Guys. Please get back to what makes me read your posts and enjoy the real intelligent things you bring as Pirate enthusiasts. The way I see it is this helps us ALL in our goal win a Championship. If this becomes a pissing match for reasons that have no relevance to the the sites great posts, time for a Tim intervention for sanity. Kang is now a Pirate and he helps our team. Reel it in.

    • I can hear it now…playing the Mets, bottom of the 9th, bases loaded ,down 3 runs, Kang comes to the plate…Brown broadcasts: CLOSE DOWN THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING…HERE COMES…KING KANG!!!!!!
      Id love it!

      • My own list of “Kangisms”

        King Kang Kong Goes Long?
        Kang and the Gang Cool off the Mets?
        GI Jung-Ho goes Gung-ho?
        Kang bangs dinger, delivers 9th inning stinger?
        Kang rang the bell at the Homerun Hilton?

        • Everybody Kung Kang tonight

          Did the Pirates have to eat his contract & leave him out to dry after one bad season to Hung Kang… Fooey?

  • I think how they structure the deal will say something about their plans, or at least what they think Kang will be.

    Makes sense to backload the deal heavily (relative to $4m AAV, of course) if they see Kang as a starter in years 3/4.

    • The only problem with back loading is if he ends up being a bench guy, he’s a lot harder to move in a trade. I am interested in how it’s structured. And I like the option. It takes through his age 32 (or 33?) season if they exercise it. We’ll likely have seen most or all of his prime years.

  • Reminiscent of last pre-season. Volquez – horrible, horrible addition. Pirates can’t make playoffs with unsettled RF and 1B. And so on and so on.

  • 🙂

    This is the kind of low risk, high reward kind of thing that small-market teams have to take if they want to compete. A total outlay of $21 million over 4 years, with the possible return an everyday middle infielder with pop. He has a bit of plate discipline, too.

    What a bench we will have – Kang, Snider, Stewart, Hart, and Rodriguez. No more PH appearances from Mr. Otto Out.

    • I think its protection for the inevitable Walker DL stint more than anything. They want Harrison to be able to settle into a position, so they bring in Kang to serve as the utility infielder.

  • Todd Kemmerer
    January 12, 2015 2:30 pm

    I still think its protection about Harrison…they don’t know what he is a 2013 or 2014 player maybe the middle

  • Assuming there are no further moves (and I think that is far from a given), the Pirate bench is, philosophically speaking, almost a complete one-eighty from past years. If the bench is Stewart, Kang, Hart, Rodriguez, and Snider, that’s a bunch of guys (with the exception of Stewart, and granting that Rodriguez and Snider are at least OK defensively) who are bat-first guys. I’m not saying that’s bad–indeed, I think it’s the exact opposite–but it sure is different.

    • Amazing what can be done with an adequately funded payroll, eh?

      • That, and actually caring about offense off the bench. For whatever reason they continued to value defense and versatility even if the player had just ugly offense. Even a team on a cheap budget could have found a bat first, ugly defense type to counteract Barmes and Sutton and Mcdonald types.

        • Oh yeah? And who would that be?

          • Mark Reynolds. Garret Jones. Hell, Delmon Young. Guys that are cheapish and can hit to some not terrible degree, but arent guys most teams are running out there 120 games.

            • And that’s my point. Garrett Jones was a starter on those teams.

              Good bench bats cost as much as Pirate starters in those days.

              • Bit funny we ignored the other two names. More to the point, Jones is currently a bench/part time player being paid only for his bat. I gave names of guys that fit the bill of bat first, bad defense options off the bench. There are 2-3 every year in FA that dont have the health/defense to be starters but can hit enough to warrant a roster spot. PIT just ignored offense on 75% of their bench until this offseason.

                • Careful. Didn’t you just get done telling me how bad of a bench bat Gaby Sanchez was because platoon?

      • I would say, shows what can be done, when you have real major league talent at every position.

    • Monsoon Harvard
      January 12, 2015 7:36 pm

      Just remember the stretch drive last year and the names Jayson Nix, Michael Martinez, Brent Morel, & Jaff Decker. Not to mention Barmes, Tabata & Gaby Sanchez. Sounds like a good start for a group called ‘weak hitters anonymous’.

      Huntington gets my respect for going out and making sure another week’s worth of games during a pennant race isn’t made up of starting line-ups that include Jayson Nix, Michael Martinez and Brent Morel. That is the real story here.

      • Not sure if WAR is your cup-o-tea, but FanGraphs has the Pirates as the second “deepest” club in baseball, as defined by number of player projected to be worth at least 1 WAR:


        • Now if only Clint could figure out a way to:
          1. Never let one of our pitchers hit (they were dead last in average and OPS last year)
          2. Play more double headers and at least one triple header so we can put our 1 WAR players up against another team’s 0.4 WAR players.

          We would win 100 games easily.

  • William Wallace
    January 12, 2015 1:34 pm

    Here is hoping he does not like the sauce as much as Shin Soo Choo.

  • Ok, being that this appears to be a done deal – King Kang is now officially handed off to Greg Brown. I can’t wait to hear him deliver that as a ball sails opposite field into the river!!

    • That would be awesome. I sure hope Kang’ power translates to the MLB game, even if it’s just half.

    • I just hope Greg doesn’t go overboard and call those HRs something like a “Kang Bang”.

      • Or “Everybody–Kang, Jung tonight!!!”

      • Maybe Greg Brown finally gets an ESPN gig, and we are spared his histrionics. If Bowden can get a job, anyone can.

        • Greg brown is on of the best announcers in baseball, even when the pirates really stunk he made the games fun. He kinda reminds me of mike lange for the pens.

          • Dave Parker's Unfiltered Camel
            January 13, 2015 6:51 am

            Greg is a little over the top when he gets excited. Kinda turns into a nerd.

            • I don’t consider that a bad thing.

              Give me a guy who sounds like he lives and dies with the team’s fortunes, like I do, over some monotonous robot.

      • GI Jung-Ho goes Gung-Ho?
        Kang Bangs Gong, Goes Long?

    • Yeah I am also waiting for our 8th inning set up man to be greeted with “Antonio you magnificent bastard!”

      • I think he’ll be Antonio Inglorious Basterdo – spelled to match the movie spelling of Basterdo.

  • John, who do you think would come off the 40 for this move, if anyone?

    • I would say Jake Elmore or Justin Sellers, don’t think it’s Pedro Florimon, but he’s a possibility of course. All three just fell further back on the depth chart

  • Seems like a good deal for both sides.

  • worst case scenario, it’s a backup IF with pop for slightly-higher-than-backup-IF-with-pop prices. Best case, it’s a good starting middle infielder for a huge bargain.

    nice little risk.

    • When I thought of worst case scenario I thought of Kaz Matsui for some reason. He got about 3 yrs 20 mil or something like that from the Mets after putting up monster power numbers at 185 lbs in Japan….and was just a borderline starting 2B with a .700 OPS. He’s still playing in Japan. I hope Kang is somewhere between Kaz Matsui and Hideki Matsui offensively.

      • The two Matsuis have combined for over 5100 hits between Japan and the MLB. Hideki hit 507 HR between the two leagues. Hopefully there will be an international HOF some day. I think it would be really cool…or Cooperstown should have a wing for guys that excelled in two leagues internationally or more. Matsui, Nomo, Ichiro, and Julio Franco would make a nice first class.

  • I’m happy with this. I feel it’s worth a shot, maybe they catch lightning in a bottle.

    • The more I think about this, the more I think the FO knows something we all don’t. With this contract, Kang becomes the 8th highest paid guy on the team (counting the posting fee, he’s 7th highest).

      Think about other possibilities for a utility guy for less than $4 mill and what they’re upsides are. Certainly they expect more than they’d have gotten for Dean Anna. They passed on Mike Aviles ($3.5M), Emilio Bonifacio ($4M), Alberto Collapso ($3M), Adam Rosales ($900K), and of course didn’t resign Barmes.

      Conclusion: Given the (still) conservative nature of the Pirates, they’re expecting much more than lightning in a bottle.

      • The Korean League is glorified Double A ball. When was the last time a hitter was called up from Double A and didn’t fail miserably? Never. Happens every time. Players who fail at the Triple A level excel is Korea. Nutting should get the pink slips ready for avoid being rushed.

        • Even if we go along with your incredibly negative outlook….they wouldn’t just be calling up any AA hitter, but the BEST AA hitter. Kang was dominant in his league, that means something.

        • When is the last time a player posted a .356/.459/.739 slash line with 40 HR in 117 games at AA?

          • All three American Double A leagues came close. Remember that Korea is a hitter friendly league.

            • You are making stuff up now.

              • See Brandon Wood. He put up such awesome numbers in the PCL that he was considered a better prospect than Andrew McCutcheon. Take away the hitter friendly league and he washed out in the bigs. And this was in Triple A that the average Korean player isn’t good enough to play in.

                • who’s Andrew McCutcheon?

                • This post makes NO sense at all. There are literally hundreds of examples to refute everything you have said. Brandon Wood’s numbers at AA weren’t nearly as good as Kang’s in Korea. And Brandon Wood’s numbers in AAA, when adjusted for the park and the league, were not as good as Cutch’s, even though Cutch was a year younger than Wood when he got to AAA.

                • Monsoon Harvard
                  January 12, 2015 6:18 pm

                  What made the PCL hitter friendly and what makes Korea hitter friendly are two wholly different things though. The PCL has the high thin air which always made Brandon Wood’s 40 homer power suspect. Plus the amount of fastballs vs. breaking stuff is disproportionate in the PCL.

                  Radhames Liz just said today that Kang hits the breaking pitches as well as the fastballs, so there’s one big difference right there, as Brandon Wood couldn’t hit a curve.

                • Baseball professional people will tell you that AA is better than AAA for one thing. And if you want to be made out to be a fool, just challenge me on the best power hitter’s numbers in AA from this past season, and their comparisons to Kang’s numbers in ” glorified ” AA…..whatever that means. Brandon Wood ? Get serious.

        • Apart from how off base the premise of your whole post is, it’s also just factually wrong: Yasiel Puig, Jason Heyward, Dan Uggla, Mark Reynolds, just off the top of my head all made the jump straight from AA to MLB and were all very productive in their first big league season.

          • The premise that Korea is akin to Double A ball is fact. Look up Korean League players and check the stats of the westerners who play there. Top salary $1 mil. If they had any talent at all they’d be in Japan, top salary $4 mil.

          • Please don’t try to confuse him with facts. It never works with folks like that.

          • Monsoon Harvard
            January 12, 2015 7:51 pm

            Albert Pujols made the jump basically from A ball.

        • Thank you for the words of wisdom oh great genius. Another guy who thinks he knows more than professional evaluators.

          • If it were possible to bet on this directly I would for any amount.

            • I would gladly bet that your IQ is lower than your shoe size.

              • I’ll guarantee if Kang played every day he’d be good for circa .250 with single digit homers. You can get that out of a Dominican for the price of a six pack.

            • Would you even bet more than the odds of Volquez working out last pre-season or the chances of the Pirates making the post season with their 1B and RF unsettled situation?

              • Volquez was a decent pitcher in the past so last year was in the realm of possibility. I can honestly say I thought he had a shot at being good going into last year.
                Japan = AAA
                Korea = AA
                This is why no one has ever made the jump from Korean League hitter to the bigs. Kaz Matsui put up numbers similar to Kang in Japan and didn’t come close to them in the bigs. Japan of course is much better than Korea.

                • I think the point of those Korea=AA comps we’ve all seen are to put the numbers and level of competition into context. They don’t tell you anything about whether or not a given player will succeed in making the jump to the majors. The differences between AA and a foreign professional league are just too much for it to be a straight comparison. You have different players of different ages with different levels of maturity with different motivations. Even if you make an assumption that the talent levels are an equal comp, I’m sure the environments have very little in common. From a competitive environment standpoint, I’m sure the Korean league more closely resembles the majors in that the vast majority of the players have already reached the highest level achievable and are therefore motivated by salary and competition to use every advantage at their disposal to succeed at all times. At AA, you have players and teams that are motivated by the personal development of individual players, not necessarily by on field success in all situations or fielding the most competitive team possible day-in, day-out. None of that is to say that Kang will or won’t succeed. It’s just a theory as to why it would be a mistake to make a predetermination on Kang based solely on the premise that it is like an old AA player making the jump directly to the majors.

            • Help me out here please. Are the odds of Kang succeeding in your mind greater than a player being released for the 6th time – the latest being the independent Laredo Lemurs – and not only making a major league roster – but being a key part of their bullpen during a successful stretch drive? I’m speaking of course of the Pirates John Holdzkom. Of course if you were in charge he never would have been a Pirate. Nor would have Volquez, Liriano, Worley, Gomez, Mazzaro, Melancon, Burnett, Snider, Martin, or Grilli. Seriously now – have Pirate pessimists such as yourself been right about anything involving the Prates over the last few years? Based on the recent record of Pirate pessimists I would avoid wagering.

            • I would take you up, but that would be a sucker’s bet, and I wouldn’t be the sucker.

        • Machado.. but he’s elite of elite talent. . I suppose kangs age may negate some of the maturity issue though

      • I totally agree.

    • Agreed. These days, Kang’s contract (including the posting fee) is not a lot of money. If Kang becomes an effective utility player, he will easily provide excess value for the Bucs. With the estimated going rate for a 1 WAR player being over $7 million, all Kang has to do is produce slightly more than an average utility guy to justify this expense. And from this POV, Kang has definite upside. This seems like a perfectly reasonable gamble.

      • Monsoon Harvard
        January 12, 2015 7:18 pm

        Hell yes. Consider what they paid Clint Barmes his first 2 years here. They got very little hitting from him and if Kang only hits .250 with 10 homers he’ll have out-hit Barmes.