Bidding starts for slugging Korean SS Kang Jung-ho

December 17, 2014
Kang Jung-ho will be eligible to sign to an MLB team after the 2014 season is over.

Kang Jung-ho will be eligible to sign to an MLB team after the 2014 season is over.

The top South Korean baseball league announced Monday that they’ve requested Major League Baseball (MLB) to post shortstop Kang Jung-ho for big league clubs.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) said it was notified of Kang’s availability by his current club, the Nexen Heroes, and asked MLB to start the bidding process.

Kang, 27, will be the third KBO player to be posted this offseason, after the SK Wyverns’ pitcher Kim Kwang-hyun and the Kia Tigers’ pitcher Yang Hyeon-jong, both of whom were posted last month. Kang is also the first position player ever in the KBO to be posted for MLB clubs.

Kang will be put up for a silent auction and MLB clubs have four business days to submit their bids. He’s represented by veteran agent Alan Nero, managing director of baseball division at the agency Octagon. Former Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez and the reigning American League batting champ Jose Altuve are among Octagon’s clients.

MLB will later notify the KBO of the winning bid, and the Heroes will have four business days to accept or reject it.

If the Heroes accept it, then the MLB team with the highest bid will have the exclusive right to negotiate with Kang for 30 days.

If the Heroes reject the bid, then Kang will become ineligible for posting until Nov. 1, 2015. The identity of the bidding winner and the amount of the winning bid will also not be revealed.

Neither Kim nor Yang signed with big league clubs. The Wyverns accepted the San Diego Padres’ bid of US$2 million for Kim, but the Padres and the pitcher couldn’t reach an agreement by their deadline, which fell at 2 p.m. last Thursday in California.

The Tigers didn’t accept the winning bid for Yang, which was rumored to be around $1.5 million.

Kang completed his equivalent of seven full KBO seasons in 2014 and became a restricted free agent, a status that allows him to test foreign markets only with the Heroes’ approval.

Interest in Kang should be much higher since he is one of those rare power-hitting middle-infielders. He played in 117 of the team’s 128 games and set career-highs with a .356 batting average, 40 home runs and 117 RBIs, and those kind of numbers are almost unheard for middle-infielders in the MLB. 

For his career, Kang is a .298 hitter in 902 games with 139 home runs, 545 RBIs and 51 steals.

Kang, however, has drawn mixed reviews for his defense. Though he is a four-time gold glove winner in Korea, MLB clubs are less than impressed with his glove, and his numbers become much less attractive if he were to be moved to a corner-infield or an outfield position. In other words, whatever his numbers may translate to in the U.S., it may be good for a shortstop or second baseman, but not so special for a first or third baseman or an outfielder.

Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers remains the only South Korean to jump from the KBO to the majors via posting. In 2012, the Dodgers won the bid for the then Hanwha Eagles pitcher with more than $25.7 million, and then inked the left-hander to a six-year, $36 million contract. Ryu has gone 28-15 with a 3.17 ERA in his first two big league seasons.

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Yonhap materials were used in this article.

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