Pittsburgh Pirates end tumultuous tenure of Jung Ho Kang

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 28: Jung Ho Kang #16 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action against the New York Mets at Citi Field on July 28, 2019 in New York City. The Mets defeated the Pirates 8-7. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 28: Jung Ho Kang #16 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action against the New York Mets at Citi Field on July 28, 2019 in New York City. The Mets defeated the Pirates 8-7. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates have ended the tumultuous tenure of Jung Ho Kang, having designated him for assignment on Friday.

When Jung Ho Kang first came stateside, he appeared to be a key part of the Pittsburgh Pirates future. A solid infielder with respectable pop and a decent batting eye, Kang had emerged as the Pirates regular third baseman. However, legal troubles derailed his career, leading to his having lost almost two full seasons.

While the Pirates kept Kang as part of their roster through those issues, he simply has not performed at a major league level this season. On Friday, Pittsburgh had seen enough, designating Kang for assignment.

Kang’s time in Pittsburgh had begun with promise. In his first two seasons, the former KBO star had produced a respectable .273/.355/.483 batting line in 837 plate appearances, hitting 36 homers and 43 doubles. His 126 OPS+ was a sign of how valuable he was offensively, as he had emerged as a key part of the Pirates lineup.

However, his own actions caused his career to derail. Kang had multiple arrests for DUI, the third of which resulted in his visa being revoked. He had also been accused of sexual assault in 2016, but charges were not filed against him.

While Kang has seemingly been on his best behavior since being allowed stateside, his production was not at the same level. In his 185 plate appearances this season, he had produced a paltry .169/.222/.395 batting line. He had hit ten homers, but his defensive struggles and inability to provide anything else with the bat had made him expendable.

It is possible that another team will take a look at Kang. He has increased his power in each of his major league seasons, although that has hurt the rest of his production. However, it is fair to wonder if he will ever regain the form he had in 2015 and 2016, as one cannot blame his lack of production on two years of accumulated rust any longer.

It is also possible that Kang returns to the KBO, or heads to Japan. Offers there may prove to be far more lucrative than what he would receive stateside, where he is likely to be offered a minor league deal. Kang could return to Korea and be a superstar once again, commanding top dollar.

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The tumultuous tenure of Jung Ho Kang has come to an end with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the end, it is his own fault.