Despite a report that the Toronto Blue Jays had submitted the winning bid for shortstop Jeong-Ho Kang (or Jung-Ho Kang, however you want to spell his name) of the Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization, Mike Wilner has debunked this rumour by saying that the Jays did not win the bidding.
Note: keep reading if you want to know more about this strange story and the player in question. If you’d rather just let the whole thing go without getting your hopes up, stop reading now.
The original interest in Kang came from a tweet by According to Shawn Keba (@Shawnkeba on Twitter), who reported that it was the Blue Jays who won the bidding thanks to some friends in the KBO. Blue Jays Fans website has connected some of the dots on this case, reporting (via MLB Trade Rumours) that a $5 million bid by an unknown team has been accepted by Nexen. This article reports the winning bid as exactly $5,002,015 and that Kang is seeking a deal that is worth between $5 and $6 million per year, depending on the length of the contract (the article reports that he’d be looking for a $5 million per year deal for four years, $5.5 million per year for three years or $6 million per year for two years).
So who is Jung-Ho Kang? He’s a 27-year-old shortstop (who will be 28 on April 5) with nine seasons of baseball in the KBO under his belt. He only played 30 games in his first two seasons combined but when he began playing regularly, he became a very solid hitter, posting seasons of at least an .848 OPS every year but two. He has never hit below .271 and has posted at least a .334 OBP every year. He has some speed, stealing 21 and 15 bases in 2012 and 2013 respectively and has shown some incredible power, particularly for Korea. He hit 23, 25 and 20 home runs in 2009, 2012 and 2013 respectively but had some down years in between with 12 and nine in 2010 and 2011.
In 2014, a year in which I would take some KBO offensive stats with a grain of salt, Kang was one of the league’s top hitters, slashing .356/.459/739 with 40 home runs and 117 RBI. He also slammed 36 doubles and two triples in 117 games (and 501 plate appearances). He was fifth in batting average and second in home runs in the league in 2014.
I suggest taking the raw numbers with a grain of salt because the slugging percentage of the entire league jumped 55 points between 2013 and 2014 while the batting average went up 21 points from year to year. Between 2012 and 2013 there was another leap in offense; however, when looking at what Kang was able to do in 2012 compared to 2013 and 2014, there’s strong evidence to suggest that he has been hitting at a pace that is well above the league average.
While the KBO’s average slash line was .258/.334/.364 in 2012, Kang hit .314/.413/.560 that season with 25 home runs. In 2013, the league average was .268/.350/.388 while Kang hit .291/.387/.489. In 2014, the league numbers jumped to .289/.365/.443 while you already know how well Kang did.
Before we get too excited, Mike Wilner poured some cold water all over the hot stove rumour mill by tweeting: “I’m told “word has leaked” that
#Bluejays won the bidding for Jung-Ho Kang. I’m surprised by this, because they didn’t. #Jays.” While I misread the tweet to interpret it as saying that the Jays didn’t bid, Wilner reported that he didn’t know whether or not they Jays bid but that they didn’t win the bidding.
Is this news? Probably not but I wrote the darn thing up anyways, so here you go!
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