(ATTN: ADDS comments in paras 13-14, photo; FIXES info in para 6)
By Yoo Jee-ho
INCHEON, May 25 (Yonhap) -- Trying to add some right-handed pop to their left-heavy lineup, the SSG Landers acquired veteran outfielder Kang Jin-sung in a trade with the Doosan Bears on Thursday.
The Landers, the 2022 Korean Series champions, sent little-used pitcher Kim Jeong-woo in exchange.
In Kang, the Landers are getting a right-handed batter who has had a strong history against left-handed pitching. He has a career .291/.353/.425 line against southpaws, compared to his overall line of .265/.330/.385.
"We've been keeping an eye on him for quite some time, because we felt we needed a right-handed batter to bring more balance to our lineup," said Landers general manager Kim Sung-yong, adding that his team first proposed the trade Sunday and the deal came to fruition Thursday morning.
Kang has played corner outfield positions and first base, and Kim said he expects the play to remain similarly versatile on the field.
But it's the performance at the plate that the Landers are banking on. Other than slugging third baseman Choi Jeong, who is tied for the team lead with eight home runs, the Landers have been getting the bulk of run production from left-handed batters. That group includes second baseman Choi Joo-hwan, who also has eight home runs.
Kim said Kang could bat as high as No. 2 in the lineup against left-handed starters.
Landers manager Kim Won-hyong also welcomed the move.
"We really needed a right-handed bat," Kim told reporters in his pregame scrum at Incheon SSG Landers Field, some 30 kilometers west of Seoul, before taking on the LG Twins. "I think we've made a good trade."
Kang made his Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) debut with the NC Dinos in 2013, but only earned full-time opportunities in 2020. That was also Kang's most productive season, as he batted .309 with 12 home runs and 70 RBIs.
He hasn't been able to match that level of production since. The Bears acquired him with a compensation pick after losing free agent outfielder Park Kun-woo before the 2022 season.
Kang only appeared in 40 games for the Bears last year and three games this year.
Kang joined the Landers just before their game against the Twins, though he wasn't expected to take the field.
"It's an honor to be with the Landers. I've wanted to be a part of this club," Kang said. "I don't know a lot of players on this team, but I know this is a tightly-knit group. I want to help the team stay in the hunt for first place."
The Landers will face Kang's former team, Bears, for three games starting Friday in Seoul.
Kim Jeong-woo, 24, has made just one appearance in the KBO, facing six batters in one inning of work in 2019. He has pitched well in the Futures League, the KBO's minor league, this season, with a 1.84 ERA in 14 relief appearances covering 14 2/3 innings.
"He has great movements with his fastball, and he has a good command of his secondary pitches, such as sliders, curveballs and changeups," the Bears said. "We are high on his potential to develop even further."
The right-hander will remain in the Futures League for the time being, the Bears said.