This weekend’s biggest baseball mystery was which team put in the highest bid for Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang.
Major League Baseball and the Korean Baseball Organization still work under the old posting system that was also in place with Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball up until last year when, the now New York Yankees’ ace, Masahiro Tanaka was the first player posted under the new system.
The posting system for Japanese players has been revamped but when it comes to players being posted by the KBO, team’s put in their bids however high or low and the team with the highest bid, if it is accepted by the player’s KBO team, gets 30 days to negotiate a contract with the posted player.
The bidding for Kang ended Friday and his team, the Nexen Heroes, accepted the bid but the winning team still remained a mystery. All over Twitter there was speculation. Teams were ruled out but not one was confirmed.
It’s now Monday and the mystery winner has finally been revealed as the Pittsburgh Pirates, which comes as somewhat of a surprise. They were not among the teams eliminated but they were not the suspected front runners either.
pirates won bidding for kang
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 22, 2014
Reports had predicted that the Philadelphia Phillies or the Washington Nationals were the frontrunners with the Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays, Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves, Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets and San Diego Padres all eliminated.
It was however, the Pirates that put in the winning bid of $5,002,015 for Kang. That’s not a very high bid but that’s likely because it is difficult to predict how well the 27-year-old’s skills will translate from the KBO to MLB.
Kang’s spent nine season in the KBO after being drafted by the Hyundai Unicorns in 2006. The Unicorns later disbanded in 2008 and became the Woori Heroes, who became the Nexen Heroes in 2010.
He has a career slashline of .298/.383/.504. He’s hit 20-plus home runs four times in his career but really broke out in 2014 hitting .356 with 40 homers and 117 RBI over the course of the KBO’s 128 game season.
The Pirates won’t lose too much if Kang is a bust in MLB and they can use the infield depth. If he does end up hitting with the same power in the Majors as he did in Korea, then they’ve gotten a steal with their bid on Kang.