Alan Nero, the agent for Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang, is confident that his client will reach a deal with the Pirates, he tells Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Nero described the negotiation process as positive and said that GM Neal Huntington has “tried very hard to basically come to the table with an offer.” Brink notes that Kang could begin the season in a bench role, providing insurance in case Neil Walker’s back continues to be problematic or in case Jordy Mercer struggles at short. I’d think that given the expected financial commitment, the Pirates will look to get Kang as many at-bats as possible.
More news from the NL Central…
- There’s been no recent progress in extension talks between the Reds and Johnny Cueto, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Cueto’s agent said last month that his client loves Cincinnati and is open to staying for the right price, but they’ll only talk extension prior to the start of the regular season.
- Reds prospect Amir Garrett has thrived after giving up basketball this past year, writes MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. Cincinnati selected Garrett in the 22nd round of the 2011 draft and allowed him to play college basketball as well, but the left-hander explained to Sheldon why he elected to give his full attention to one sport for the first time in his life. Reds player development director Jeff Graupe tells Sheldon that the shift to focus solely on baseball is a large reason behind Garrett’s 2.86 ERA over his final 14 starts. Now on the 40-man roster, Garrett will be in big league camp for the first time in 2015.
- In a piece for Baseball America, the Cincinnati Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans spoke with Reds GM Walt Jocketty about his club’s direction for the future. Jocketty stressed the importance of stockpiling pitching talent — something the club has made an effort to do in recent drafts — as the key to sustained success. The breakthroughs of both Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier have given the Reds even more reason for optimism, Rosecrans writes, but there are still questions in the rotation and with some of the club’s injured stars.
- Though reports have indicated that the Cardinals are toying with the idea of adding a front-line starter such as Cole Hamels, Max Scherzer or David Price, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeff Gordon feels that the Cards should trust the depth they have and make only a minor addition, if any. (Gordon suggests that flipping Peter Bourjos for a lower-caliber arm could make sense.) Any trade for Price or Hamels would likely have to include one of Stephen Piscotty or Randal Grichuk (among other players, of course), which would leave the Cardinals thin when Jason Heyward hits free agency next winter. Gordon notes that the trade of Shelby Miller in the Heyward deal suggest that GM John Mozeliak and his staff are confident in Michael Wacha’s ability to rebound from injury, thereby lessening the need for a large addition.