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On Monday we learned the Pittsburgh Pirates have won negotiating rights to Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Kang’s Korea Baseball Organization team, the Nexen Heroes, accepted Pittsburgh’s high bid of slightly more than $5 million, per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and the two sides now will have 30 days to negotiate a deal.

According to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, Kang is said to be seeking a contract in the three-year, $24 million range.

A lot has been made of Kang this offseason, as the 27-year-old was long expected to pursue a career in Major League Baseball following a career-best season in the KBO. Should he reach the major leagues, he’ll become the first player to make the jump directly from the KBO. On top of that, Kang is set to arrive at a time when there’s a scarcity of impact hitters, let alone shortstops, on the open market.

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The New York Yankees’ quietly good offseason continued Friday, as the team acquired right-handed pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, first baseman Garrett Jones and right-handed pitching prospect Domingo German from the Miami Marlins, according to Marc Carig of Newsday.

Heading to the Miami Marlins in the deal will be Martin Prado, who the Yankees acquired at last year’s trade deadline, and right-handed pitcher David Phelps.

After shoring the left side of the infield with the additions of third baseman Chase Headley and shortstop Didi Gregorius, the Yankees were seeking an upgrade on the mound without having to shell out big bucks for a veteran free agent. Therefore, they used Prado, who became more expendable after the Yankees inked Headley to a four-year pact, to land a pair of high-upside arms.

In Eovaldi, the Yankees are getting one of the more intriguing young pitchers in the game. He has a power arm and nasty stuff to go along with good control, but heading into his age-25 season, things haven’t quite clicked for the right-hander.

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When the Atlanta Braves traded outfielder Jason Heyward to St. Louis in November, it signaled that the club might be initiating a rebuild.

However, a lack of activity on the trading front at the winter meetings as well as the signing of free agent Nick Markakis to a four-year deal gave the impression that the organization still might try to compete in 2015.

"I made it real clear from the beginning that we're not looking to trade anybody. We'll certainly entertain whatever might come our way. If there is something that comes along with real value for us, we'll certainly examine it," said Braves President of Baseball Operations John Hart following the winter meetings, via Mark Bowman of MLB.com.

Well, Hart clearly likes what came his way Friday morning, as the Braves traded left fielder Justin Upton to the San Diego Padres in return for a prospect package featuring left-handed pitcher Max Fried, infielder Jace Peterson, third baseman Dustin Peterson and center fielder Mallex Smith, per FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal and CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.

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Many of baseball’s top prospects are spending the offseason playing in winter leagues in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, hoping to get a head start on the 2014 season and improve their chances of cracking an Opening Day roster. 

As is usually the case given the time of year, the prospect pool between the four leagues is heavy on hitters. Unfortunately, this winter's crop of talent is fairly weak and features fewer big-name prospects than previous years.

Here’s a look at some of the top prospects tearing it up in the offseason winter leagues.


The Tampa Bay Rays stunned the baseball world Wednesday, agreeing to trade 2013 American League Rookie of the Year Wil Myers to the San Diego Padres as part of a three-team deal with the Washington Nationals, according to The Associated Press (h/t FoxSports.com).

In return for Myers, the Rays will receive a package of five young players, including outfielder Steven Souza Jr., who famously preserved Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter on the final day of the regular season with a game-ending, diving catch in left-center field.

Souza, 25, put up monstrous numbers at Triple-A Syracuse last season, but the Nationals’ surplus of outfielders prevented him from receiving consistent playing time. But Souza’s situation in Washington wasn’t going to improve in 2015, which prompted the Nationals to include him in Wednesday’s trade.

Now penciled in as the Rays’ Opening Day left fielder, Souza will finally have an opportunity to show what he can do on a near-everyday basis. And if it’s anything close to his performance over the last two years, he’s going to blow past expectations.

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A prospect usually becomes a household name either by making an impact in the major leagues or exceeding expectations and thriving at multiple minor league levels.

This past season, prospects such as Mookie Betts and George Springer were summoned from the minors in the middle of the year and made an immediate impact in the major leagues. Now, they're arguably two of the better second-year players in baseball heading into 2015.

On the other side of the spectrum, Joey Gallo is an example of a prospect who became a household name last season without reaching the major leagues.

Gallo began 2014 by posting an 1.119 OPS with 21 home runs at High-A Myrtle Beach, and the 21-year-old added another 21 bombs following a midseason promotion to Double-A Frisco. And after hitting at least 40 home runs in back-to-back seasons, Gallo is firmly on the major league radar heading into the 2015 season. 

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Rangers prospect Joey Gallo introduced himself to a national audience at this year’s All-Star Futures Game, as he put on an unbelievable power display during batting practice and followed it with a booming home run in the game.

The tape-measure blast—measured at 419 feet—led to the 21-year-old being named the game’s Most Valuable Player. And given the scarcity of power in baseball right now, it surely put Gallo atop many teams’ preferred trade lists.

At 6’5”, 205 pounds, Gallo is a physical specimen with enormous, 80-grade raw power. The combination of his quick wrists, explosive bat speed and lofty swing give him effortless in-game power to all fields, making it easy to envision him being a true 35-home run threat at the highest level.

“He’s got power. He’s got the ability to even mis-hit a ball and be able to hit the ball to both sides of the ballpark. He doesn’t have to be strictly a pull hitter to show power,” said Rangers’ short-season coach Rick Down, via Josh Norris of Baseball America.

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International free agents are receiving serious interest in the aftermath of Major League Baseball’s winter meetings, with teams looking for relatively cheap and creative options to plug holes on their rosters.

Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, 19, is expected to be the most coveted international player this offseason, though that could change depending on when he’s officially cleared to sign. Meanwhile, power-hitting shortstop Jung-Ho Kang was posted Monday by the Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization, and he could potentially be a fit for a variety of teams.

However, those are just a few international players drawing interest from major league teams.

Here’s an updated look at projected landing spots for five international players currently pursuing a major league contract, including Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda, who’s yet to be posted but worth discussing given his potential impact on the open market.

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The Atlanta Braves aren’t officially rebuilding, at least not yet, but the organization certainly has its sights set on the future.

That became clear back in late September, when Braves president John Schuerholz tore apart the team’s front office and then hired a new cast of personnel, all the while emphasizing a need to strengthen the team’s farm system and build from within.

Schuerholz replaced general manager Frank Wren with John Hart, who initially carried an interim GM tag before officially taking over as the Braves president of baseball operations, retained assistant GM John Coppolella, promoted Brian Bridges to scouting director and hired widely respected scouting and player development guys such as Gordon Blakeley, Roy Clark and Dave Trembley.

It wasn’t long before the Braves’ revamped front office put its plan in motion, as it traded Jason Heyward to the St. Louis Cardinals in late November in exchange for a pair of young pitchers.

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A case can be made that the New York Mets possess the best collection of young pitching in the major leagues, with a projected 2015 starting rotation that includes right-handers Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and National League Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom.

Plus, it shouldn’t be long until they’re joined by a host of other young arms, too, as prospects Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz both are close to being ready for The Show.

However, while the Mets may be loaded on the mound, the team also has glaring holes elsewhere on its roster, especially at shortstop. So far, general manager Sandy Alderson hasn’t been interested in trading any of the aforementioned pitchers for an upgrade at the position, though that hasn’t stopped other teams from inquiring.

But if the Mets were to trade for a shortstop this offseason, then they could potentially draw a huge return by making Syndergaard available.