Jung Ho Kang will begin playing minor league games

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Jung Ho Kang will begin playing in games with the Pirates minor league team at High-A Bradenton tomorrow.

Kang was granted a work visa to return to the United States a month ago and since then has been working out at the Pirates’ spring training complex in Florida. Assuming no hiccups in his minor league stint, he’d likely join the major league club some time in June.

Kang, 31, missed the entire 2017 season following his third DUI arrest in South Korea in December 2016, after which he was not permitted entrance to the United States. With permission granted, the Pirates decided he was worth giving another chance and do not plan to discipline him any more than the time and salary he missed out on.

In Kang’s last big league season he hit .255/.354/.513 with 21 homers in only 103 games as the Pirates’ third baseman. Kang is owed a pro-rated $3 million this year once he is activated. The Pirates have a $5.5 million team option on him for 2019, so the rest of his season should be seen as an audition. If the time off has caused his skills to degrade, the club will likely cut bait on him pretty quickly, owing him whatever is left for this year and a $250,000 buyout on the option.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.