The Pirates announced that infielder Jung Ho Kang will be activated for the final three games of the regular season against the Reds in Cincinnati this weekend.
Kang, 31, has been out of action since 2016. In December 2016, he was arrested for driving under the influence and fleeing the scene of a one-car accident. It was Kang’s third DUI since 2009. Kang had also been investigated by Chicago police during the summer in 2016 for alleged sexual assault.
Kang is under contract for the remainder of the season and will get the prorated portion of his $3 million salary. The Pirates have a $5.5 million club option for next season with a $250,000 buyout.
If the Pirates planned to buy him out next year rather than pick up the club option, it wouldn’t make much sense to activate him for three meaningless games at the end of the season. The club may be trying to find out if he can be relied on next year. Infielders Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer aren’t expected to be with the team next year. Kang could help fill those gaps. In 16 minor league games at High-A Bradenton and Triple-A Indianapolis, Kang hit an aggregate .310/.408/.517 with three homers and 16 RBI. He hit the Single-A pitching (1.406 OPS) but struggled against Triple-A competition (.572 OPS). Kang underwent a debridement procedure on his left wrist in August which was expected to be season-ending.
The Pirates’ decision to activate Kang and their potential decision to pick up the club option won’t be without controversy. Some fans will understandably not be pleased that an alleged abuser with three DUI’s has been brought back into the fold. The Pirates, though, are likely only considering the fact that he could be a productive infielder for the relatively cheap price of $5.5 million.