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.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.