Pirates Offseason Extension Candidate: Jung Ho Kang
In two seasons as a Pirate Jung Ho Kang has already become one of the team’s best players. Should they attempt to extend him this offseason?
In December of 2014 the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Korean infielder Jung Ho Kang to a 4-year contract. This contract was worth 11 million dollars and has proven to be an absolute steal. Now, should the Pirates begin to look to extend Kang?
Jung Ho Kang is slated to become a free agent after the 2018 season. If Kang gets to free agency, he will undoubtedly be a hot commodity. Due to this, I believe, the Pirates should try to extend Kang this offseason.
Through his first two Major League seasons Kang has been a phenomenal player. In 837 plate appearances he has slashed .273/.355/.483/. 838 with a .362 wOBA and a 131 wRC+. Additionally, he owns a .210 ISO and he is averaging a home run once every 20 at bats. Furthermore, his WAR through his first 229 career games is 6.2.
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During his time in the Major Leagues Jung Ho Kang has played both shortstop and third base. However, moving forward he will almost assuredly be just a third baseman. Not only is he far superior defensively at third base, but also his catastrophic knee injury suffered in September of 2015 probably took away his ability to play shortstop.
Despite some fielding issues in 2016, Kang has still been an above average defensive third baseman in his Major League career. In 1,263 2/3 career innings at shortstop Kang has two defensive runs saved and a .971 fielding percentage. Also, it is very possible that Kang’s defensive woes were due to a shoulder injury he suffered in August. Especially since his defense did not start to suffer until this injury occurred.
Assuming 2017 is Kang’s first full Major League season, his production should be astronomical. His 2016 numbers put him on pace for 36 home runs and over 110 RBIs over the course of a full season. And I fully expect Kang to have that type of season in 2017.
Additionally, by all reports it seems that Jung Ho Kang loves it in Pittsburgh. He has quickly become a fan favorite, and he has embraced the fans the same way. He also has a great relationship with his teammates. Due to these reasons, I believe Kang would be open to an extension if the price was right.
Jung Ho Kang is one of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ best players. In my opinion, the Pirates should try and extend him this offseason. I would love to see the Pirates and Kang reach a 2-3 year extension this offseason.