The Pirates submitted the high bid on Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang and have been awarded exclusive negotiating rights with him, as first reported by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The winning bid, which was reported over the weekend, was worth $5,002,015 and was accepted by Kang's team in Korea, the Nexen Heroes.
The Pirates were not thought to be in on Kang, who has been linked to the Mets, Phillies and Nationals throughout the bidding process. Pittsburgh has capable options in the infield with Josh Harrison at third, Jordy Mercer at shortstop and Neil Walker at second, so their high bid on the Korean shortstop is a puzzling one. The team could be looking to use Kang as a utility infielder, though it is not totally out of the question that he could replace Mercer as the team's primary shortstop.
Kang, 27, hit .356/.459/.739 with 40 home runs in 137 games for Nexen last season and is said to be seeking a multi-year deal in the $5-6 million range from the Pirates. The team now has thirty days to get a deal done, or they will receive their $5+ million back from Nexen.