Korean Shortstop, Jung-Ho Kang the Next Yoenis Cespedes For Oakland?

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Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang (or Jeong-ho Kang, according to Baseball Reference) will be posted by his team, the Nexen Heroes, in the coming week according to Joel Sherman of the NY Post. With the A’s in need of a shortstop, Kang may make a lot of sense for Billy Beane to pursue once he is posted after the winter meetings end.

Kang turns 28 in April, and according to Sherman, “MLB scouts who have seen him are dubious he will have the range to handle the position here and he would have to play second or third. His agent, Alan Nero, has suggested Kang could even play center field.” Some may read that as, “He can’t play shortstop! What are you thinking?” The way I read that is he can help out in a number of areas that Oakland will need filled in the coming years. Second base is another area the A’s could use an upgrade this offseason. Third base may need to be manned by another player if Brett Lawrie gets injured. Center field is taken by Coco Crisp, but he could also become trade bait, with his $11M contract each of the next two seasons, and a $13M option in 2017.

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Kang makes sense. Other teams may get cold feet going after a player that doesn’t necessarily have a position, which would limit the competition for Billy Beane and company.

If you’re still on the fence, Jung-Ho Kang belted 39 home runs and hit .354 in Korea last season, and has hit at least 22 homers with a .291 batting average each of the last three seasons. The 39 dingers ranked 2nd in the Korean Baseball Organization, while his .354 batting average ranked 5th.

According to John Hickey, the A’s are interested in many players in the international market, but Kang was not listed among them. Typical Beane move right there. Just because the A’s aren’t listed on the manifest, doesn’t mean they’re not on the flight.

If the A’s were to go after Kang, and sign him, we could have a repeat of the 2011 offseason on our hands. Yes, that comparison has been made before. With the trade of Josh Donaldson, and the pending trades looming over the Oakland faithful, A’s fans are looking for the silver lining. We’ve traded key players before and wound up better. That offseason, the A’s signed Yoenis Cespedes, and he was a big part of the success that followed from 2012-2014. Adding another international free agent, perhaps Jung-Ho Kang, could be the move that takes A’s fans from despair to ordering yet another postseason strip.

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