Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the Atlanta Braves just signed one of their young, team-controlled players to a multi-year extension. This time: Andrelton Simmons. Who isn’t even arbitration-eligible yet. He got seven years and, according to Ken Rosenthal, $58 million guaranteed.
Simmons is easily the best defensive shortstop in baseball, with his highlight reel from 2013 alone featuring more amazing defensive plays than many shortstops have their entire lifetime. While his hitting line was only .248/.296/.396 last season, he does have some pop in his bat, having hit 17 homers, and there is reason to believe he’ll improve. Even if it’s only moderate improvement, his plus-plus defense already makes him a valuable commodity.
At any rate, that leaves approximately six people in the United States the Braves have not extended this offseason.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that third baseman Jung Ho Kang has been granted a work visa and will soon rejoin the Pirates. Kang had previously not been allowed to enter the U.S. after he was arrested for his third DUI in Seoul in December 2016.
There was some thought that Kang wouldn’t ever play for the Pirates again, but things have worked out in his favor. It will still likely be a while until he actually appears in a major league game, as he will need to get back into game shape and up to game speed.
Pirates president Frank Coonelly said, “After a lengthy process, we are pleased that Jung Ho has been allowed to re-enter the United States. We are encouraged by the steps that Jung Ho has taken to date and are hopeful that having the games he loves taken away from him for more than a year has driven home the reality that he must make better life decisions as we move forward together.
As we have communicated to him throughout this process, we will work to provide Jung Ho with the resources and support necessary for him to meet the high expectations that we have for him as a member of our organization and our community.”
The Pirates signed Kang as an international free agent out of South Korea to a four-year, $11 million contract in January 2015. If he were to appear in the majors this season, he would earn a prorated $3 million. He has a club option for next season worth $5.5 million with a $250,000 buyout.