The Pirates have reportedly declined to pick up the options for infielders Josh Harrison and Jung Ho Kang, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, making both players free agents.
Neither move is a surprise. Harrison, a two-time All-Star at second, had requested before last season that the Pirates trade him if the club was not trying to field a contender. Injuries limited him to 97 games, and he hit .250 with eight home runs. It would have cost the Bucs $10.5 million to keep him for 2019. They will owe him a $1 million buyout for declining the option.
The club gave 26-year-old Adam Frazier an extended look at second base last year with Harrison sidelined, and he responded with 10 home runs and a .798 OPS in 113 games.
As for Kang, the former Korean baseball star hasn’t been a part of the club’s plans in a while. He missed the entire 2017 season because he was unable to obtain a visa to return from South Korea after being arrested for his third DUI there. After obtaining a visa earlier this year, he played in Pittsburgh’s minor league system, was injured, and played three games for the Pirates at the end of the season.
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But the 31-year-old third baseman does swing a big bat, with 36 home runs and a .837 OPS in 745 MLB at-bats. Pirates general manager Neal Huntington hinted late in the season that the Pirates might try to re-sign Kang at a lower price.
“If we don’t (pick up the option), we’d have significant interest in seeing if there’s a middle ground where it makes sense to have him come back,” Huntington told the Post-Gazette. “And if Kang plays the way Kang is capable, he has everyday opportunity here and he may just beat out Colin (Moran).”
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