Posting process set to begin for Jung-Ho Kang
We’ll soon learn just how much faith teams have in the gaudy statistics posted by Kang, a shortstop, across the Pacific. The 27-year-old slugged 40 home runs in the most recent Korean Baseball Organization season, power that—if it were to translate—would make him a coveted asset at any position, but particularly in the infield, whether or not he sticks at short.
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
Beane says report that the A's are among teams with interest in Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang is inaccurate.
— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) December 9, 2014
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
In other shortstop news, the shallow market this offseason might give way to a much better one a year from now, when Desmond is set to spark a war over a premium player at a premium position. Talks with the Nationals have broken off, spurring trade rumors like the one that pointed to the Mariners during the Winter Meetings, but there’s little reason for GM Mike Rizzo to trade Desmond, since his club is one of the favorites in the hunt for the 2015 pennant.
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
After trying and failing during the Winter Meetings to consummate a trade for Justin Morneau, the Marlins appear to have moved on to other options to upgrade at first base. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald says Morse is near the top of that list, in part because the free agent wouldn’t require Miami to part with one of its controllable pitchers, Henderson Alvarez or Jarred Cosart.
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.