December 15, 2014
The Slugging Korean Shortstop, Or Perhaps Non-Slugging Third Baseman
Posting process set to begin for Jung-Ho Kang
But there’s some reason to question how much Kang will hit stateside, not least of which is the offensive environment, where the average hitter’s .808 OPS would’ve ranked 33rd among qualifying major leaguers, right beside new White Sox outfielder Melky Cabrera. And that’s why the posting process, which FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says will begin today, could be so intriguing.
Domestic free agent infielders are in short supply, with the likes of Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie representing the top options for still-needy teams. Kang incrementally expands the supply, at least for teams that believe in him, but the gamble won’t come cheaply. Between the posting fee and the three-year, $24 million pact Kang hopes to land, the total investment figures to lie between $30 million-$40 million, according to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News.
Ackert noted that the Mets, who’ve sent scouts to Korea to watch Kang, aren’t sure whether he’s worth the cost. The Giants, who have yet to find a replacement for Pablo Sandoval, could factor into the bidding, but shortstop is currently occupied by Brandon Crawford, so Kang would either play third or bump Joe Panik to the hot corner from second.
Finally, the A’s—the third team mentioned by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman on December 8th—might have the most flexibility. Third baseman Brett Lawrie saw time at second in Toronto and new shortstop Marcus Semien played the keystone in Chicago, so Oakland could bring Kang in and then figure out who’ll play where in spring training. Except
for what it’s worth, Billy Beane refuted their involvement. GMs aren’t always the most forthright bunch, but if comments like that are any indication, the market for Kang might be much quieter than his statistics—and expectations—suggest.
Ian Desmond looks likely to test free agency next winter
We learned about a month ago that Desmond expects suitors to line up for his services when he becomes available, as Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post heard that he rejected a seven-year, $107 million proposal from Washington last offseason. He’s probably right.
Shortstops don’t often come with both power and speed, but Desmond is the exception: In fact, he’s the only big leaguer to log 20-plus homers and 20-plus steals in each of the past three years, and Hanley Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, and Jimmy Rollins are the only others to do that at the position in major-league history. That makes him fantasy gold and a very valuable real-life asset, too; he’s been worth 8.3 WARP over the past two years.
A team-friendly two-year, $17.5 million extension will make Desmond a bargain ($11 million) for one more year, but he’s inching closer to a significant windfall with each passing day.
Marlins staying in touch with Michael Morse
A powerful hitter when healthy, Morse would give manager Mike Redmond another potent right-handed bat alongside Giancarlo Stanton in the middle of the lineup. If you’re willing to see past an injury-ravaged 2013 campaign, the 32-year-old has hit .291/.343/.505 since 2010. But while poor statistics compiled while less than 100 percent are forgivable, Morse’s fragility is much tougher to overlook.
That makes a multi-year commitment problematic, especially since the Marlins wouldn’t have the option of shifting Morse to DH. The Orioles, on the other hand, would be able to take him off the field, and Heyman tweeted about their interest last week. Those two clubs appear to be the best fits for Morse, who’s unlikely to return to San Francisco, because of his shoddy fielding.