Pirates notebook: Kang deal could be completed by Friday
BRADENTON, Fla. — Free-agent infielder Jung-ho Kang will be in Pittsburgh on Thursday to be examined by Pirates doctors. Amid reports the two sides have reached a contract agreement, a source close to the situation told the Tribune-Review the deal likely will be announced Friday.
On Monday, ESPN and MLB Network Radio analyst Jim Bowden tweeted the Pirates and Kang agreed to a four-year contract for about $16 million. Bowden said the deal, which includes a fifth option year, is pending a physical.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington would not confirm that an agreement is in place.
“When and if we have an announcement, we’ll be sure to (make one),” Huntington said. “We do like the player, we’re involved in the process and hope to be able to add him.”
Kang’s team in the Korea Baseball Organization, the Nexen Heroes, said in a news release that he was set to fly from Seoul, South Korea, to Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
Huntington and his assistants are holding organizational meetings this week at the Pirate City complex. If Kang’s contract is finalized before the end of the week, Huntington indicated he could return to Pittsburgh for the announcement.
The Pirates won an exclusive, 30-day window rights to negotiate with Kang when Nexen accepted their $5 million posting fee. The deadline to finalize a deal is 5 p.m. Jan. 20.
Kang, 27, last season hit 40 home runs and was named the league MVP. Pirates right-hander Radhames Liz saw a lot of Kang when they both played in the KBO.
“He’s the type of guy you (can’t) leave the ball in one place (pitching) against him,” Liz said. “He can hit the breaking pitch, and he can hit the fastball.”
Liz believes Kang’s skills will translate well from Korea to MLB.
“It he doesn’t change anything, I think he will be all right,” Liz said.
Taillon on the mend
Righty Jameson Taillon is scheduled to pitch off a mound Jan. 23. It will be his first time on the hill since having Tommy John surgery last April.
“I feel good,” said Taillon, who is attending the team’s voluntary winter workouts at Pirate City. “I went home and took a break (from rehab) for four weeks, and now I feel rejuvenated. I’m running, stretching and throwing, and I feel like a baseball player again.”
Around the horn
Jamey Carroll was hired as a special assistant to the baseball operations staff. Carroll, 40, was an infielder from 2002-13 with six big league clubs. “We’re going to take this year to kind of hit all aspects of the organization and see where that may lead to next,” he said. “There’s a lot of familiar faces for me in this organization, and it seemed like a fun, good fit.” … Huntington said outfielder Jose Tabata will get a non-roster invitation to spring training. Tabata, 26, is under contract through 2016. He was dropped from the 40-man roster Oct. 4 when the Pirates acquired Preston Guilmet, who last month was claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays. … Many veteran players usually bypass voluntary winter workouts. Among the notable attendees this year are Tabata, Jordy Mercer, Charlie Morton, Vance Worley, Tony Sanchez, Andrew Lambo, Jared Hughes and John Holdzkom.