After winning the bidding for South Korean infielder Jung-ho Kang, the Pittsburgh Pirates reached an agreement on a contract with the 27-year-old. 

The Pirates made the deal official Friday, Jan. 16:

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports divulged some financial details:

Kang will arrive in Major League Baseball with high expectations thanks to his performance for the Nexen Heroes, which included an MVP award in 2014. He hit .356/.459/.739 with 40 home runs and 36 doubles in 117 games. 

Upon learning that Kang was eligible to negotiate with a team following the bidding process, Jon Morosi of Fox Sports spoke to Kang‘s agent about the Pirates:

The Pirates were a surprise winner in the Kang bidding, mainly because they don’t customarily get involved in high-profile negotiations like this. Pittsburgh does need to add another bat to the lineup, whether it’s at shortstop or third base.  

According to Ben Badler of Baseball America (via Mike Axisa of, scouts are mixed on what kind of MLB player Kang will be:

Kang is strong and has average raw power, with a chance for 15-20 home runs if he plays every day … He doesn’t have the range to play shortstop in the majors, and scouts also expressed concerns about his ability to make the routine plays … there’s enough potential at the plate for him to be an offensive-oriented utility player who starts his U.S. career in the majors.

While that issue may have to be worked out, the Pirates need to find production from the shortstop position after the unit posted.258/.308/.378 slash line in 2014. 

The addition of Kang at least gives manager Clint Hurdle a new option to work with. The Pirates have made the postseason in consecutive seasons and return most of the roster from last year, as well as 2013 star A.J. Burnett to the rotation. They are poised to stay in the National League Central race. 

Kang will endure the growing pains that come with facing MLB pitching that most players do, but his history of performance in Korea suggests he won’t feel overwhelmed at being put on the biggest stage that baseball has to offer. 


Stats via

Read more MLB news on