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Shortstop Kang Jung-ho reportedly signs four-year deal with Pittsburgh

All Headlines 08:38 January 13, 2015

SEOUL, Jan. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korean shortstop Kang Jung-ho has agreed to a multiyear contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, a U.S. report claimed Tuesday.

ESPN.com reported, citing a source, that Kang has reached a four-year deal worth approximately US$16 million, with an option for a fifth year.

The deal is pending a physical, the report added.

Kang's Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club, the Nexen Heroes, said Monday that the player was scheduled to depart for Pittsburgh on Wednesday and to undergo a physical on Thursday and Friday.

The 27-year-old enjoyed the best season of his career in 2014, hitting 40 home runs and driving in 117 runs in 117 games. Both were single-season records by a KBO shortstop. Kang also batted a career-high .356 and led the KBO with a 1.198 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS).

The Heroes posted Kang last month, and the Pirates won the silent auction with a bid of $5,002,015. They had the exclusive rights to negotiate with Kang for 30 days, and the deadline is 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Jan. 20.

If the deal is finalized, Kang will become the first South Korean position player to go from the KBO to the majors via posting. In 2012, pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin became the first South Korean player to make that jump when he signed a six-year, $36 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Also, once the deal is complete, the Heroes will pocket the posting fee that the Pirates put up for Kang.

Kang will then join a crowded infield in Pittsburgh with mainstays in middle infield. Jordy Mercer hit a career-high 12 homers last year while also improving his defense at short. Second baseman Neil Walker, a Pittsburgh native, also had a productive offensive season with 23 home runs and 76 RBIs.

Kang, who was a catcher in high school, has primarily been a shortstop in his pro career. He played third base for the national team at the 2010 Asian Games. Kang has said if he had to switch positions, he'd prefer to play third base over second base because he'd feel more comfortable at the hot corner.

Kang has also said his goal in his first big league season will be to hit around .260 to .270 with 15 homers or so.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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