Jung-ho Kang went from the questionable signing to the season savior when Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison went down with injuries, until his crucial loss in September when Chris Coghlan blew out Kang’s ACL. Should the Pirates big offseason acquisition be his close friend Jae-Gyun Hwang?
I’ve followed the KBO postings much closer this offseason since Kang’s success. Most every savvy Pirates fan knew about the bidding on 1B Byung-ho Park, whose posting fee was auctioned off to the Twins for $12.85M. But Park wasn’t the person I was hoping to sign. I think Jae-Gyun Hwang is a much better fit in Pittsburgh.
The 28-year old Hwang was posted on Monday by the Lotte Giants. MLB clubs have until Friday at 5 pm EST to submit their secret bids. Hwang’s posting fee to the Lotte Giants would be less than the $12.85M for Park, presumably. As for what type of contract he’d be looking at, maybe some like a 4 yr/$16M deal?
Hwang would potentially play 3B for the Pirates and probably could play 2B as well. Kang would then be the everyday starter at shortstop and would put Mercer into a backup role (which he assumed after Aramis Ramirez was acquired). This would allow Harrison to be the super utility guy in 2015 and to take over 2B full time next year after Walker leaves. Of course, all this assumes that the Pirates don’t trade Walker this offseason.
You ask, wouldn’t Harrison be blocking Alen Hanson or Max Moroff? Hanson had an OK season in AAA last year and Moroff had a good season in AA. Both are still much more likely to bust than to succeed. The only bat in AAA that is close to a sure thing is Josh Bell and he still needs work, plus he’s a 1B only.
Back to Hwang, he’s super duarable (hasn’t missed a game in 5 years) plays a plus defense at 3rd base and has a strong arm. On the offensive side he uses all fields, has nice speed for an infielder and would have at least average power for a third basemen in this offense supressed age.
Take a look at the highlight video posted last week by GSI and try not to root for the Pirates to sign Jung-Ho’s buddy.