For the past few years, we’ve all heard about the absurdly talented 2018-19 Major League Baseball free agent class including Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, A.J. Pollock and more. With this class just about two months away, teams have begun prepping their plans for this winter, with hundreds of millions of dollars in the plans for some of these organizations. Nevertheless, if a team is looking for an impact player who can be had for a significantly lower sum, Jung Ho Kang may be their best bet.
The biggest obstacle here is that Kang isn’t guaranteed to become a free agent at season’s end, although, I can’t see the Pittsburgh Pirates being too inclined to pay $5.5 million on a team option for a player who has overstayed his welcome in the Steel City, having not played in the majors for two seasons now. Obviously, Kang’s off-the-field history isn’t what every team yearns to acquire, but his .310/.408/.517 batting line in Triple-A this season, as well as a career .273/.355/.483 major league line should certainly draw interest regardless.
Kang has shown very solid power and the ability to get on base at a very strong clip in the major leagues. If we’re going off of his talent alone, Kang could probably bring in a deal that sits around 3-years, $48 million (speculation) based on his position and offensive talent, but his off the field issues have really hurt his value on the market, as he carries a lot of risk, in regard to staying on the field, based on his history of criminal activity and the fact that he will probably be under something of a microscope upon signing.Having worn out his welcome in Pittsburgh, Jung Ho Kang will likely become a free agent at year's end. Here's why he could be a potential steal.Click To Tweet
At the end of the day, though, the 31-year old shortstop has been worth 6.5 bWAR and 5.8 fWAR over the two seasons that he played in Pittsburgh. Furthermore, he is a reasonably uncommon example of a shortstop with legitimate power, with plate discipline that suggests potential longevity in the major leagues.
Personally, I would be willing to give him a one year deal equivalent to his player option then proceed to control his rights via arbitration through 2021. He would make a lot of sense on either a rebuilding or competitive team, as he’s inexpensive and productive, but doesn’t have to be considered as a win now type player. A few potential fits include Washington, Kansas City, Philadelphia, the White Sox, Miami, Milwaukee and Arizona. At the end of the day, he’s a case where it might be beneficial to look past the past, and to the future.