The Pirates have reached agreement with Korean infielder Jung-ho Kang on a four-year, $11 million deal that include a fifth-year team option, as reported by Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. The option is valued at $5.5 million, and includes a $1 million buyout.
Pittsburgh bid $5,002,015 for his exclusive negotiating rights, putting their entire financial commitment to Kang in the $16 million range with the potential to reach more than $20 million. The infielder was originally said to be looking for a deal in the $5 million per year range, so the final deal will come in at a bit less than expected.
Kang, 27, hit .356/.459/.739 while slugging 40 home runs with the Nexen Heroes in the offense-first Korea Baseball Organization last season. He has been a shortstop throughout his career but appears to have the ability to switch positions, though it is currently unclear where exactly he will play for the Pirates with Josh Harrison at third base, Jordy Mercer at shortstop, and Neil Walker at second base. Many believe that he projects as a starter in the majors, so it will be interesting to see if the Pirates try to work out a trade involving Mercer or keep him around as they see what they are getting in Kang.