Kang played in only three games — the Pirates’ season-ending series against the Cincinnati Reds — in 2018 after missing nearly two straight seasons because of visa issues connected to three DUI arrests in his native South Korea.
Kang received an eight-month suspended prison sentence in March 2017 after he left the scene of an accident in Seoul on Dec. 2, 2016. A friend of Kang originally said he was behind the wheel, but police later found out Kang had driven the car. Kang had a blood alcohol content of 0.084. The legal limit in South Korea is 0.05.
The 31-year-old Kang has hit .274 with 36 home runs and 120 RBIs in 232 career games for the Pirates.
“We appreciate Jung Ho’s hard work to get back to being a productive Major League player, while continuing to handle himself appropriately off the field,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said in a statement. “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. Competition and options are important to any organization and this signing provides us with both.”