10:33am: Kang will earn a $3MM guarantee on the contract and can take home another $2.5MM via performance bonuses, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
8:21am: The Pirates announced that they’ve signed third baseman Jung Ho Kang to a one-year, Major League contract for the 2019 season. Kang, who is now repped by Wasserman, returned to the Pirates organization in 2018 after missing the 2017 campaign and much of the 2018 campaign due to visa issues stemming from his third DUI arrest in his native South Korea. The Pirates paid a $250K buyout on Kang’s $5.5MM club option after the season, but he’ll now return to the club at what should be a reduced rate.
Kang, 32 in April, largely delivered on the hype that followed him to the United States in his first two seasons in Pittsburgh. The former Nexen Heroes superstar posted a .273/.355/.483 with 36 homers, 43 doubles and two triples through 229 games in his first two seasons with the Pittsburgh organization, giving the Buccos plenty of production in return for a relatively modest $16MM investment ($5MM posting fee and a four-year, $11MM contract).
However, Kang played in only three MLB games this past season and was released by his Dominican Winter League after significant struggles in the preceding offseason, so it’s not clear just how well he’ll be able to re-acclimate to big league pitching. He may have gotten a lengthier look had he not required wrist surgery in August, but that health issue only adds to the question marks surrounding him.
Kang will give the Pirates a potential platoon partner for Colin Moran at third base, though he also has MLB experience at shortstop, which is a bit unsettled in Pittsburgh at the moment. Prospect Kevin Newman got his feet wet in the season’s second half and is the top internal option now that Jordy Mercer has become a free agent. As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bill Brink tweets, though, GM Neal Huntington indicated at the end of the season that Kang may be strictly viewed as a third base option at this point (Twitter link): “He’s more of a third baseman than even a once-a-week shortstop, and his comfort is definitely third base now, that he’s shared with us.”
Kang’s DUI conviction wasn’t his only legal trouble; he was also the subject of a sexual assault investigation in 2016, though criminal charges were never filed by the alleged victim, who ultimately would not cooperate with police on the matter. Since his DUI arrest in the 2016-17 offseason, he’s gone through a substance abuse treatment program in his home country.
“We appreciate Jung Ho’s hard work to get back to being a productive Major League player, while continuing to handle himself appropriately off the field,” said Huntington in a press release announcing the move. “We feel that bringing Jung Ho back in 2019 will make us better as he will have the ability to make a positive impact on our lineup. Competition and options are important to any organization and this signing provides us with both.”
Soju for everyone!
Man that takes me back to many..Operation Team Spirit nights
Worst hangover I’ve ever experienced. I later found out that stuff has fermeldahyde in it.oh and the army frowns on us soldiers drinking it and taking our clothes off lol
The Navy wouldn’t mind.
ey is at the front of this.
That’s Makgeolli. Not Soju. I was at Kunsan AB beginning of the 80s. Its always those who spent all their time in the barracks who tell others’ stories as if they were their own but get facts wrong.
Welcome to the Pittsburgh Browns
Get the guy to stop drinking cold ones and he might produce….
He says he hasn’t drank since the last DUI.
I wonder if he’s stopped assaulting women.
Probably says he hasn’t assaulted a woman since the last one too
I was wondering if Kang was that “feared hitter” Tampa Bay was looking for.
You know that he did?
Troll not funny and I’m a Cub fan let him be he did his Time kinda
No he said he only drinks to get drunk
He stay drunk
Happy to see he’s back with the Pirates. He’s one of my fantasy sleepers for 2019.
Kang hasn’t played 2B in the Majors, only 3B and SS.
Agh, that’s correct. My mistake. I believe he played there a bit in Spring Training when he first came over, but I should’ve double-checked his defensive logs before writing that. Thank you.
Wasn’t he playing 2b when a Cub player slid into him and broke his leg?
No, he was playing short and covering the bag on a double play.
Just happened to be on the 2nd base side of the bag when Coghlan accidentally aggravated Kang’s case of plantar fasciitis. Well at least that is what noted Orthopedist/podiatrist Joe Madden informed us back in June 2015
Mendoza Line 215
Kang could be a platoon with Moran, but in truth, Kang has much better stats against right handers than left handers.
I’m pretty sure that the fair Bucco fans will welcome him back with enthusiasm…especially if he manages to put himself into the comeback award running.
All is forgiven if you can hit a baseball or make a jump shot, especially if the player can be resigned at a cheaper rate.
No point to resign him. Just no point.
You lost SRod, Freese, Harrison and Mercer since last season. I’m sure this isn’t a big investment and gives them an body off the bench.
I don’t think his reasoning had to do with the game between the lines.
I voted Kodos.
this man is a damn fool
I for one am glad he’s back. He was my favorite player until he got hit with the DUI, and I still have a soft spot for him. And to all the fans that say the pirates shouldn’t have brought him back, I ask you why? Okay he has off field troubles, but so did Chapman, Reyes, Hamilton, the list continues; but yet they all have had chances to come back. Even team president Frank Coonelly has a DUI, and while I do not condone drunk driving, it happens a lot more than people are willing to admit. Also, with how poor the Pirates bench has been what harm is there in bringing in a guy who has shown the ability to line up at third, short and with the possibility that he could also handle second and even first on a cheap contract is a bad idea. And if his flexibility isn’t enough, the guy has done nothing but rake in the bigs, if he even recaptures some of that form this will be a great contract.
Tom the Baller
Not sure I’d give him $3M, especially if I’m the Pirates. I feel like you could get a comparable player for much less than that. Plus, the guy essentially hasn’t played in 2+ years. Plus all the off-the-field drama.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
If he can move forward from his off the field issues, I think this is a good signing. He’s shown he can hit at this level, and for the Pirates, it’s a relatively cheap contract.
Give the guy a chance. I think he can make big contributions. Typical pirate bashers
damn that means no machado :p
For a team that usually operates on the lower end of the payroll spectrum, this one seems really confusing. You wanna use him in a platoon with Moran? Well, Kang only splits .225/.346/.391 against lefties (.286/.357/.505 against RHP), which, while definitely better than Moran (.177/.261/.242), isn’t the kind of upgrade where you *have* to have this dude back. You’re telling me you’d rather give this guy $3M than pay someone like Newman/Kramer/Moroff the league minimum for the two or three days a week he might face lefties?
He doesn’t really play anything but 3B, he’s had 45 PAs total in AAA/MLB since 2016, and if you throw those in with the fact that he’s got a LOT of off-field issues following him around, it seems like a waste of the Pirates’ otherwise limited payroll.
Kang is a risk but its a short deal, if he ends up being Kang of old and Moran is doing fairly well Kang could bring back a fair return. Plus he could possibly be a SS option in a pinch. (Kang’s Natural position was SS until injury)
The pirates are at the lower end of the payroll and kang is a risk… but it is a risk we’re familiar with and the upside is pretty high. and the pay rate is fairly low should it hot work out.
Obviously makeup doesn’t matter to the Pirates.
Whenever I see his last name I always think back to The Star Trek movie Wrath of Kahn.
So Wasserman didn’t want to represent Puig over his antics, but will represent this multiple DUI walking disaster? There has to be more to the story…
You’re leaving out the sexual assault charges from a Chicago road trip….
Mendoza Line 215
Some of you do not believe in second chances.He paid a very steep price of two years of his peak performance.It was a fair price,but he has paid it.
If he had done something wrong with the woman why did she not pursue it?
This is a very good contract.It is essentially what he had before.I for one think that he may have another good year or two or three left.
With all due respect to Moran let the battle to start at third begin.Competition is always a good thing.
Kang can be an emergency backup for the other two infield positions.
The Pirates do take risks but they are always calculated,and generally for relatively small amounts of money.
Such are the ways of the small market teams who have won one championship in 27 years.
1. No, he didn’t. 3 DUI, no jail. Got back in the US. He paid the “athlete/celebrity price”: a momentary pause in making millions & doing whatever you want.
2. There are lots of reasons women don’t pursue these charges, even if they’re true (as has been exhaustively explained on about every news channel over the past 2 months or so). Maybe she thought she’d get her life ruined while he got a slap on the wrist, even if this was his 3rd time. Wonder where she’d get that idea?
3. I don’t care about the Pirates baseball rationale. This guy is garbage, and it shouldn’t matter.
Dude should not even be in the USA. He is an undesirable person.
I’ll drink to that!
Jung Ho Kang / Ji-hwan Bae wonder if it’s a Korean baseball player thing or not lol
He made a mistake, and he paid for it. 2 years of his golden time and 6MM of salaries to be exact. It’s not easy to forget a player whose WAR is 6.5 in 2 years. Yes he is that talented and not easy to find the guy like him at that level, Only 1 in 200 of draft picks ever succeeded to reach Majors.
Let’s see, a big victory by the Steelers last night and the Bucs announcing the signing of Kang. Which do you think is the bigger story? Not sure how any GM in his right mind can give Kang $3 million with all that baggage. Another 4th place finish in the NL Central is in the cards for them this season. Plus, I wouldn’t bet the ranch the Bucs can beat out the Reds for the bottom slot. Gonna be a long summer by the bridge.
I agree with the signing but I think this will be the one and only significant free agent signing this winter.