PITTSBURGH — Jung Ho Kang is staying with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Pittsburgh and the third baseman agreed Thursday to a $3 million, one-year contract that includes $2.5 million in performance bonuses based on plate appearances: $625,000 each for 200, 300, 400 and 500. The deal was announced a week after Pittsburgh declined a $5.5 million club option for Kang, triggering a $250,000 buyout.
“We feel that bringing Jung Ho back in 2019 will make us better as he will have the ability to make a positive impact on our lineup,” general manager Neal Huntington said in a statement. “Competition and options are important to any organization and this signing provides us with both.”
Kang was a star in his native South Korea when the Pirates signed him to an $11 million, four-year deal in January 2015. He finished third in NL Rookie of the Year balloting after hitting 15 homers and driving in 58 runs in 2015, when Pittsburgh won 98 games. It would be the high point of Kang’s time with the Pirates.
The 31-year-old Kang didn’t play in the U.S. between September 2016 and June 2018 because of visa issues connected to three DUI arrests in South Korea. He made it back to the majors with Pittsburgh in September and went 2 for 6 during the final weekend of the season.
As in Kang’s previous deal, the Pirates must allow him to become a free agent at the end of the contract.
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