Club has 30-day window to negotiate contract with slugging infielder
By Tom Singer
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Pirates submitted the high bid of $5 million for Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang, formally accepted Monday by the Nexen Heroes to start the negotiating clock for the hard-hitting infielder.
The Bucs have 30 days to strike a deal with the 27-year-old Kang. Failing to do so would return Kang to Nexen and refund the posting fee to the Pirates.
"The Pirates are pleased to have secured the opportunity to attempt to add [Kang] to our system and look forward to commencing discussions with the player and his representative in an effort to make that happen," said Bucs GM Neal Huntington.
The posting fee -- for negotiating rights -- was just the starting point for the services of Kang. According to newspaper reports in his native country, he is looking for a four-year deal at $5 million a year.
The Korean Baseball Organization is a notoriously offensive-bent league, but even within that context Kang stood out with a 40-homer season and an OPS of 1.198.
And he had to cool off at the end of the season to get his OPS to that figure. Through September, Kang was hitting .360 with an on-base percentage of .465 and slugging average of .756, which translated to an OPS of 1.221.
For an admittedly apples-and-oranges comparison, Washington's Ian Desmond led Major League shortstops in 2014 with 24 home runs, and Hanley Ramirez's .810 OPS was the highest at the position.
The 6-foot, 180-pound Kang is hardly a breakthrough story in South Korea, where he has been baseball royalty for a decade. He had a stellar prep career at Gwangju High School, one of the more prestigious high schools in South Korea for baseball.
In five seasons in the KBO, Kang has struck 108 homers, with consistent .300/.400/.500 splits.