Mets interested in Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang

By Ryan Punzalan

In an article published early Monday, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Mets – along with the Giants and Athletics – are interested in Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang, who turns 28 this coming April. With shortstops currently being the thinnest position in the market, it’s no surprise that the Mets have been giving Kang a look to beef up their infield.

Kang’s offensive numbers are quite impressive, posting a .364/.457/.733 slash line last year, to go along with 39 home runs in 116 games. Obviously, the game is slightly different in the KBO, but it should be noted that aside from one off year, Kang has a maintained a career hitting line of .298/.382/.502 in 901 games.

Defensively, Kang is still a question mark. Writes Heyman:

"While some may view the slugging Kang as more of a second baseman, he has been the top shortstop in Korea and some major-league teams clearly think he can make the transition."

The KBO doesn’t keep stats online like MLB, so it’s tough to gauge how Kang might perform in the United States.

The Mets still have Daniel Murphy at second, with Dilson Herrera waiting in the wings, so a second baseman isn’t really what the Mets need. If Kang can stick at shortstop, he would potentially be a better offensive player than Wilmer Flores right now.

If you are interested in checking out how Kang plays, there are videos online that show Kang’s highlights over the last few seasons, such as the one below:

It’s expected that Kang will be posted next week, shortly after the Winter Meetings. If the Mets come away from the Winter Meetings without a shortstop upgrade, the Mets’ reported interest in Kang will be something to keep an eye on.

Thoughts from Danny Abriano:

For an idea of how inflated Kang’s numbers might be, you can look at Eric Thames, a failed major league player who hit .341 with 32 home runs last year in Korea.

The level of competition in the Korea is viewed as similar to the level of competition at Double-A. Additionally, the miniscule ballparks in the league further enhance the power numbers of players who are batting against pitchers who aren’t exactly feared.

The Mets should be exploring any possibility in their effort to upgrade shortstop, but taking a chance on Kang doesn’t seem like the way to go.