Jung Ho Kang was released by his Dominican Winter League team after batting just .143 with one homer and 31 strikeouts in 24 games and committing four errors.
Being released by a winter league team isn’t necessarily a horrible thing, as there is often a conflict between the player’s approach to the league and the club’s view of things. Some players — and Kang is probably one of them — view the Winter League as a development or rehab opportunity, and use it to simply get reps in. The Winter League teams, however, take the on-field competition very seriously and are playing to win. To that end they have, in the past, had no compunction whatsoever in releasing promising prospects or big name big leaguers who aren’t cutting the mustard. That being said, it’s certainly not a good thing for Kang, who missed the entire 2017 season following a third DUI arrest last December.
The Pirates haven’t given up on the possibility that Kang will be with the club in spring training, but it’s unclear how that will happen given that he has been denied a visa by the Department of State as a result of his legal problems. Kang is under contract through the end of 2018 and the Pirates have a club option for the 2019 season as well, but if he (a) can’t get here; and (b) can’t play, that’s sort of academic.
Kang hit .273/.355/.483 in 837 plate appearances across two seasons in the majors, but it’s increasingly looking like he won’t return to Major League Baseball.