Last December, Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang crashed a BMW into a guard rail and fled the scene. He reportedly had a blood alcohol level at 0.084 percent, which was over South Korea’s legal limit of 0.05 percent. It was his third drunk driving offense in Korea and led to an eight month suspended sentence. It also led to him being denied a visa to come to the United States to play baseball.
But while he can’t get over here, the Pirates are not giving up on him, it seems. Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that they’re trying to get him some playing time in the Dominican Winter League.
It’s a sensible move if the Pirates think that Kang will be able to come back to the U.S. to play in 2018 — he hasn’t played baseball of any kind since last season — but it’s hard to see how he’ll get a visa to come here to play. Especially in the current political climate in which visas, especially for those with criminal records, can be expected to be much harder to come by.
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.
That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.