Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette takes a long look at the path of Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang, who recently washed out of Dominican winter ball and still does not appear to have an avenue back to playing in the majors. It’s well worth reading the piece in its entirety for a glance at Kang’s hard-to-decipher rise and fall. And it’s worth noting that Nesbitt says some within Kang’s former organization, the Nexen Heroes, are hopeful that the power-hitting infielder could negotiate an exit from his contract with the Pirates to pave the way for a return to the team for which he long starred in Korea.
Here’s more from the National League:
- The Pirates and Mets have again engaged in some talks involving long-time Bucs star Andrew McCutchen, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). As things stand, though, it seems there’s no reason to believe the Mets are a particularly likely destination. The 31-year-old looks to be a solid value after a nice bounceback season, but at $14.75MM on a one-year commitment he’s not exactly teeming with value, either. And that’s still a big payroll hit for the Mets, who are reportedly looking to upgrade in several areas without greatly increasing their 2018 financial commitments. From the Pittsburgh perspective, of course, the team seems mostly still to be considering arrangements that will maximize resources without fully committing to win-now or future-oriented extreme. That’s the broad takeaway from the mailbag of MLB.com’s Adam Berry, who nicely covers a variety of topics of interest to Bucs fans.
- Meanwhile, the Giants — who have also been tied to McCutchen — are still working through a broad slate of possibilities, as Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. GM Bobby Evans says the organization is “not really focused on the calendar” and views its options as “still very satisfying.” Patience has been the name of the game for just about all of baseball’s key actors this winter; the question remains when and how transactions will begin in earnest. For the Giants, the key limitations revolve around a desire to dip below the luxury tax line and a hesitancy to part with the best of their relatively meager prospect assets. As Schulman notes on Twitter, rivals have not only focused on outfielder Heliot Ramos, but also young pitchers Andrew Suarez and Tyler Beede.
- It has already been an eventful and somewhat controversial offeason for the Marlins. As Danny Knobler writes for Bleacher Report, the new ownership group’s decision to move large contracts and launch a rebuild may feel unfortunate, and has not been conducted in an artful manner, but largely fall in line with what was viewed as necessary given the financial limitations and roster needs that had arisen. Perhaps there’s still a chance that the Marlins can salvage the situation from a PR perspective, though, if they can make a case to fans that they have mostly just been acting strategically — that is, methodically working through necessary trade talks without giving away their true, full intentions in a manner that may have appeased fans but drained leverage. The proof, perhaps, will be in the results of the still-percolating trade talks surrounding J.T. Realmuto and Christian Yelich — both of whom are arguably more valuable trade assets than the players who’ve already been dealt. As Rosenthal tweets, the Marlins are not prioritizing financial matters in marketing Realmuto and Yelich; rather, the club is “seeking [the] best talent” it can get its hands on. It will certainly be interesting to see how those discussions progress over the coming weeks, as it seems there’s broad interest from quite a few teams that could deliver major assets back to the Marlins.
- Winter Meetings chatter between the Padres and Cubs involving infielder Javier Baez failed to develop, per another Rosenthal report. It’s “likely” that Chicago was looking to pick up “a controllable starter” in any such deal, says Rosenthal, and the San Diego organization was just not interested in dangling Dinelson Lamet or Luis Perdomo. The sides also held some discussions involving Baez and Friars lefty Brad Hand, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Precise formulations of potential trade packages are not really clear, but it probably shouldn’t be too surprising to hear that those particular names came up. It seems that ship has sailed at this point, though in theory the sides could always strike up talks again if one or the other has a change of heart. Lin also addresses a few other topics of note; in particular, he says the Pads are likely just about done adding rotation options, so fans looking for a Jake Peavy reunion shouldn’t hold their breath.