This weekend’s mystery is which team placed the winning bid on Korean infielder/power bat Jung-Ho Kang. The winner will get the right to negotiate a contract with Kang over the next 30 days.
The winning bid was just $5 million ($5,002,015 to be precise), which indicates that teams are not at all convinced his huge KBO numbers will translate to the big leagues. That’s the kind of bid you place to get him for a price that you can afford to digest if he’s a total bust. Still, his team has reportedly accepted the bid, and the identity of the team should be known soon.
So far, a number of the most likely suitors (based on need) have been ruled out, including the Mets, Yankees, Padres, Blue Jays, and Orioles.
C.J. Nitkowski thinks the bid number – with that little ditty of 2015 at the end – looks like the kind of bid the Cubs’ and Rangers’ front offices make, but he doesn’t see the fit with either team. Each team has a bunch of infielders, so I can see where Nitkowski is coming from – then again, each team also likes to try and take chances in the international market, looking for value. I’ll say that the Cubs being the winning team here would surprise me very much, but wouldn’t absolutely floor me, solely because it’s a 27-year-old infielder with power, and a relatively low risk move.
Also, the Cubs were very briefly, and very thinly, connected to Kang earlier in the offseason. Kang is represented by Alan Nero, who, by the way, also represents Jason Hammel and Joe Maddon.
As for the contract Kang is hoping to get, the Yonhap report above suggests he’ll want $5 to $6 million per year over a multiyear deal. As we’ve seen, the leverage in this traditional positing system (i.e., only one team wins the right to negotiate, rather than in the NPB system where all max bidders can negotiate) doesn’t favor the player, and the value of the contract is rarely a ton more than the value of the posting bid. Then again, in this era, I wonder if teams already knew approximately how much Kang would cost before bidding, and maybe there won’t be a ton of squeezing on either end after the fact.
UPDATE: The Giants are out, as well.
UPDATE 2: Not the Braves. This is fun. The thing you have to remember, though, is that, to the extent the Cubs make sense (which is to say they don’t, really, but if they were just rolling the dice on a cheap flyer), basically every team in baseball, regardless of need or depth, makes sense.
UPDATE 4: Nats out. And then there were 17.
UPDATE 5: It’s not the Rangers. I really hope this just counts down one by one until there are only two teams left (Cubs and Red Sox, just for the lulz). Obviously if the Cubs are eventually ruled out, I’ll stop tracking this so closely. Heck, given the low posting fee and unlikelihood of future MLB impact, I probably shouldn’t be tracking this closely as it is. But, whatever. It’s fun.