View single post by lobo316
 Posted: Tue Dec 23rd, 2014 04:28 am
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Joined: Sun Oct 14th, 2007
Location: Raptorville
Posts: 44392
The Pittsburgh Pirates are hoping they just landed themselves a rare power-hitting shortstop on the open market.

Pittsburgh secured exclusive negotiating rights for Korean infielder Jung-Ho Kang after submitting a successful bid of roughly $5 million, the club announced Monday.

Jung Ho Kang’s agent, Alan Nero, told me after #Pirates won negotiating rights Kang is “very excited” about “challenge” of playing in MLB.

— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 22, 2014
Nero on Jung Ho Kang: “He knows Pittsburgh had a good team last year and hopes he can help them to the playoffs and World Series . . . ”

— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 22, 2014
It was reported Saturday that Kang's club in Korea, the Nexen Heroes, accepted the winning bid from an unidentified major league team.

The Pirates have 30 days - starting the day the bid was accepted - to negotiate a deal with Kang, who's reportedly seeking contract terms anywhere from two years at $12 million to a four-year pact worth $5 million per season.

Kang slashed .356/.459/.739 with 40 homers and 36 doubles in 117 games for the Heroes in the Korean Baseball Organization last season - eye-popping numbers for a middle infielder. Several teams reportedly entered bids for the 27-year-old shortstop, who some scouts project as a bench bat or utility piece.

Kang is said to have a plus arm for a shortstop, but critics question his range at the major league level and wonder whether he's better suited at second. His tantalizing power at a position that's usually offense-challenged is an attractive tool, though scouts remain skeptical of his numbers, which could have been assisted by playing in the hitter-friendly KBO.

The Pirates may soon find out.

Pittsburgh is well-stocked at second after Neil Walker continued his steady development this past season. The 29-year-old earned a Silver Slugger award for his offensive production at the position, including 23 homers and a career-high .467 slugging percentage. Walker remains under club control through 2016.

Pittsburgh is, however, in search of an offensive upgrade at Kang's natural position. Jordy Mercer hit 12 homers in 149 games as the starting shortstop in 2014, but was exposed as a below-average offensive contributor after adjusting for park and league factors.

Mercer, who fared well defensively last year by advanced metrics, has another season of pre-arbitration left, but at 28, he doesn't offer the type of upside the Pirates are likely to build around up the middle.