The Pittsburgh Pirates won contract rights at the end of December to negotiate a contract with South Korean superstar shortstop, Jung-Ho Kang. On Monday, the Pirates inked the Kang to their roster for 4 years, worth $16 million. Kang is coming off a huge year with his former team, the Nexen Heroes in which he hit .356 with 40 homeruns and 117 RBI’s.
With the Pirates making smaller splashes this offseason and picking up veterans like Corey Hart, Francisco Cervelli and bringing back fan-favorite, AJ Burnett, the Pirates look to continue their winning ways in 2015. The Bucs fell on hard times when they lost Russell Martin to free agency, but they have faith in Cervelli and backup Tony Sanchez. The Pirates dumped both players they had at first base in Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez. It appears that the Pirates will go with Pedro Alvarez at first or possibly platoon him with Corey Hart.
One of the positions that the Buccos believe they could improve this offseason was shortstop. Jordy Mercer was the starter for majority of last year after a season of sharing the spot with Clint Barmes. Mercer showed signs of life in 2014, after he struggled early on, he turned out to hit .255 with 12 homeruns and 55 RBI’s. However, with the signing of Kang, it should be imminent for Mercer to return to the bench. Not saying that in a bad way as it is no fault of Mercer. He can now produce as a quality backup and player off the bench.
Speculation from a few weeks back believed that the Pirates would attempt playing Kang as a second or third baseman, but he would be coming off the bench. The Bucs should start Kang at shortstop and put his $4 million per year to work immediately. His numbers might not translate into the MLB like they did in South Korea, but if they can get 20-25 homeruns from the starting shortstop and 5-10 from Mercer off the bench, success will find its way into the Pirates’ clubhouse.
Jung-Ho Kang could turn the Pirates into a National League power and give them a serious shot at winning not only the NL Central division, but also the National League Pennant. However, we could also be sitting here a year from now wondering if it was the right decision to sign the South Korean star, but it would be nice to see this move pay off.


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