Pirates sign 3B Jung Ho Kang to 1-year deal

FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2016, file photo, Pittsburgh Pirates' Jung Ho Kang rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis. The Pirates and the veteran third baseman agreed to a one-year deal Thursday, Nob. 8, 2018, that will bring Kang back for the 2019 season. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, FIle)

PITTSBURGH — Jung Ho Kang is staying with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates and the veteran third baseman agreed to a one-year deal Thursday that will bring Kang back for the 2019 season.

The move comes a week after Pittsburgh declined a $5.5 million club option for Kang, paying him a $250,000 buyout instead. Financial terms on Kang's new deal weren't immediately available.

"We feel that bringing Jung Ho back in 2019 will make us better as he will have the ability to make a positive impact on our lineup," general manager Neal Huntington said in a statement. "Competition and options are important to any organization and this signing provides us with both."

Kang was a star in his native South Korea when the Pirates signed him to an $11 million, four-year deal in January 2015. He finished third in NL Rookie of the Year balloting after hitting 15 homers and driving in 58 runs in 2015, when Pittsburgh won 98 games. It would be the high point of Kang's time with the Pirates.

The 31-year-old Kang didn't play in the U.S. between September 2016 and June 2018 because of visa issues connected to three DUI arrests in South Korea. He made it back to the majors with Pittsburgh in September, collecting two hits in six at-bats during the final weekend of the season.

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