First Pitch: Where Would Jung-Ho Kang Have Ranked in the 2015 Prospect Guide?

After the news yesterday that the Pittsburgh Pirates won the bidding for the exclusive negotiation rights for Jung-Ho Kang, a thought went through my mind: I’m glad I don’t have to figure out where he fits in the 2015 Prospect Guide. The book went to publishing a week before the news was announced, and was released on Friday.

Technically, Kang is prospect eligible. He doesn’t have 130 at-bats in the majors, which is the eligibility cutoff we use for hitters. And technically, he isn’t even a member of the Pirates. He still needs to sign with them, and they have 30 days from yesterday to reach a deal. I think he will end up signing. As for where he would have ended up in the book, that’s much less clear.

On the surface, Kang’s circumstance is no different than any other prospect. He has stats in another league, and the question is how those stats could translate over to the majors. The difference is that if Gregory Polanco dominates Triple-A, we have a good idea of how that could translate to the majors. We have no clue how KBO stats will translate. We know that players who have struggled in the majors have gone to the KBO to put up All-Star numbers. But that’s not to say that anyone putting up strong numbers in the KBO is the next Felix Pie in the majors.

Like I said, I’m glad I didn’t have to figure out where Kang fit into the rankings. It was hard enough figuring out where John Holdzkom would fit, and he was a guy who actually had a limited amount of success in the majors, along with dominant numbers in Triple-A.

And almost immediately after thinking that it was great not having to wonder where Kang fit in the rankings, I had another thought: Where would Kang fit in the rankings?

The rankings in the book aren’t my own. They’re made up of grades and adjustments by myself, John Dreker, and Wilber Miller, with help from Ryan Palencer and Pete Ellis. John and Wilbur are the only two, aside from myself, who grade everyone in the system, since they both follow and write about the minor league system on a daily basis throughout the season. Any estimation of where Kang would end up would require at least their input. So I asked each of them where they would rank him in the current rankings.

I’m not going to give much away about the book here. I’d still like you to buy it, if you haven’t, so I’m not going to give a ton of details on the book or the order of the rankings (especially since the top 20 is basically the bulk of the site content in January, allowing me to take some time off before the season starts back up). If you have the book, then you know the order.

Both John and Wilbur had him just outside of the top ten prospects in the system, right around spot 11. I would have to agree with that range. Keep in mind that the Pirates have a top farm system, so having Kang at 11 could equate to the middle of the top ten in some systems, and the top half of the top ten in the weakest systems.

Almost every prospect ranking this year is going to have a top seven list that includes Josh Bell, Tyler Glasnow, Alen Hanson, Nick Kingham, Reese McGuire, Austin Meadows, and Jameson Taillon in some order or another. The next tier of players beyond those guys is where I’d put Kang. He’s a guy who could be an impact starter, but the odds seem small on that one. If he had a good chance of being an impact player in the majors, he’d be with that group listed above.

I do think Kang has a good chance to provide value in the majors as a bench player, and while the chances of being an impact starter seem small, he could have enough to be an average starter in the majors. That seems like the conservative projection to make. And then there’s the additional potential, which could take Kang beyond “average starter” status.

Let’s put it this way. I’d have Kang in the same talent tier as Elias Diaz. And I think a very broad comparison between the two players works. I’ve always had Diaz as a potential backup option, who could become a starter candidate if he learns how to hit. That happened last year, but in a small sample size, and it’s unknown how the bat will translate to the majors. So you’ve got a guy who has a good chance to be a backup, a decent chance to be an average starter, and a small chance to be above-average or better, if he can find a way to carry his 2014 success from the minors to the majors. It’s similar with Kang, with the main difference being that he needs to carry his numbers from the KBO, rather than Double-A and Triple-A.

Unfortunately, we don’t know how those numbers translate, since Kang will be the first position player to make that jump from the KBO to MLB. Because of that, I would take a slightly more conservative view with Kang than I would with someone like Diaz who has similar questions about the range of his upside.

Links and Notes

**Unless there is any news tomorrow, I probably won’t have an article until after Christmas. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!

**You can order the 2015 Prospect Guide here, in both paperback and eBook form. Today I posted a preview of the Guide, with a look at Josh Bell’s future.

**Blue Jays Claim Preston Guilmet

**Pirates Sign Pitcher Adam Miller

**Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch writes that the Pirates out-bid the Cardinals for Jung-Ho Kang.

  • formerdraftpick
    December 25, 2014 8:39 am

    If everything works out in the next 30 days with Kang and the Pirates don’t trade away anyone, who will be the next on the DFA bubble? It doesn’t look like they need a bulk of the leagues backup shortstops, so I’m assuming it may be Elmore, Sellers, or Floriman. However, others to add into the mix may be Decker or Scahill. As a side note, could Walker, Alvarez or Sanchez be on the trading block?

  • Hi gentelmen!
    I just read this article from Fangraphs.com and I’d like to share it so that you will get some understanding of the level of KBO (Korean Baseball Organization) and the Kang’s performance in that league.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/japanese-and-korean-prospects-in-context/

    The author wrote his name as Jeong-Ho Kang but I’m pretty sure that the correct name is Jung-Ho Kang. So don’t be frustrated.

    Also, if you want to take a look at the level of top KBO players’ performances against the players who you’re familiar with, you could watch this Korea vs. USA 2006 WBC (World Baseball Classic) game in the Angels stadium of Anaheim with ESPN broadcasters.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r79XbyfzeJ4

    Although it is quite old, but it can give you some hints for the style of Korean baseball and especially how good the top players in KBO were in batting and fielding. As of MLB, KBO has been remarkably developed since 2006 as well and most Korean baseball fans think that Jung-Ho Kang is definitely one of the best field players in Korean baseball history.

    If we had a WBC right now, I believe Jung-Ho Kang will bat in the clean-up trio with Shin-Soo Choo who is playing in Texas Rangers and Dae-Ho Lee who is #4 hitter of Softbank Hawks which is the 2014 champion team of Japanese professional baseball.

    We all Koreans are enthusiastically looking forward to seeing Jung-Ho Kang in PNC Park like you guys.

    Happy Holidays!

    SungHyun KIM from South Korea.

  • I’d like to see the Bucs sign him as quick as possible and get Kang up against some MLB level pitching. Let’s see what he brings to the table. If he hits .275 with 15-20HRs that will be worth the $5mill/year. It makes me want to buy a Kodos jersey too.

  • Ironic that the Cards got outbid by the Pirates for Kang.
    If the Cards would have gotten him, they would have Kang(Kong) and Wong up the middle. Talk about bookends.

  • When we lose Alvarez there is only 6 guys in the organization that we can feel somewhat confident in starting n a ML roster. Harrison,Mercer,Walker,Hansen,Bell and now Kang. If Walker left it would be 5 guys for 4 spots and the Jury is still out on Hansen and Bell. You gotta hope Kang is a serviceable ML’er and sign Neil Walker to an extension. Look at the 6 names. Neil Walker is the only one of the bunch who has 100% proved he can be an everyday Major Leaguer. Even if all these guys make it to the bigs Walker would still probably win a starting job over most of them

    • I find it interesting that some people still don’t think of Mercer as being a guy “who has 100% proved he can be an everyday Major Leaguer.”

      The problem with the line of thinking that you are saying is the path of Mercer himself. When Mercer was in the minors, it certainly wasn’t a guarantee that he would become a good, solid major league starter. (Remember the d’Arnaud/Mercer discussions??) It’s quite likely that the Pirates have a couple of guys currently in the minor leagues that will become solid major league starters that aren’t named Hanson and Bell.

      Looking at their bb-ref pages, it’s interesting that Walker and Mercer have almost identical WAR during each of their 1st 2 full seasons in the majors (2.0 for each for year one, and 2.6 for Mercer and 2.8 for Walker for year two.)

    • Walker is the only one that has proven he will hit the DL most years, and is also below average on defense. Walker is a near lock to move to 1B or 3B, meaning his value comes mostly on offense. So he has to continue his uptick in HRs to see above average value, and his health cant get worse as he hits 32+ years of age. For PIT, there is no huge reason to offer him near market value for years that are likely to be risky, and no real reason for Walker to take a huge discount on what is likely his last chance at a major contract. Neil Walker is a quality player that we control over the years we need to, and not a good bet to be quality 2-3 years after his current contract ends.

  • I think it would be a big win if he could be a guy who is capable of starting anywhere on the IF . I think his upside as a major leaguer is around a Neil Walker type season. .270 BA 20 Hrs . If he gets anywhere near that this is a gigantic win for the Pirates and a bargain at 5 million per.

  • Merry Christmas Tim
    I am going with the Pirates and my own judgement on this one, Kang is going to be paid more than a bench player. So the Pirates think he is talented enough to be a starter. He will be the best middle infield player they have in the system next to possibly Mercer/Walker. He is a toolsy player, even though the competition is not major league, it is not major league in AA or AAA and we generally draw conclusions about how good someone is from that competition. I think the Pirates are doing what I am doing and drawing conclusions from what they see from him primarily and not the competition. In this case it might not be a good idea to judge him on the competition. Watching him play on video, something the Pirates and scouts probably did a lot, I think he has the talent to hold his own against major league competition. Therefore I would rank him in two categories in the Pirate system.
    1. The player most ready for the majors in the system
    2. Probably rank him 4 or 5th talent wise in the system

    • Not a bad analysis leadoff. If any organization had a middle infield prospect hit 40 HRs with an OPS well North of 1.10 in say, AA or AAA, everybody in OB would be doing backflips.

      • The problem with that thinking is that he is 28, so if the Pirates had a 28-year-old hitting 40 homers for Altoona, his name would be Adam Hyzdu II

        • Only because of the built-in assumption that he would’ve gotten a chance to play major league baseball by that point, failed, and been sent back to Altoona.

          • I just picked a random older person that hit a lot of homers against AA pitching and someone people would know. Feel free to replace him with Josh Bonifay or Jon Benick or anyone of the ringers the Pirates used to stash at the lower levels that had no business being there. They were never prospects because they hit a lot of homers, they were too old to be considered prospects for the level they were at. If Kang hit 40 homers for Altoona this year at his age, he may not have even made the Pirates top 50 prospect list. Leo used the word prospect, which almost eliminates his age from the equation because how many 28 yr old prospects are there. So it wasn’t a good comparison, just pointing out the flaw there in his fictional situation.

            • We all can see what you’re doing, John. No explanation needed.

              We can then assume that you would’ve used a Brad Eldred comp for Jose Abreu last winter? I mean, after all, the guy put up those stats as a 26 yo in the Cuban League, similar to AAA quality.

              You’re being terribly myopic here.

              • I wouldn’t have used that comp unless someone said “If we had a guy hit like that in AAA at age 26, people would be doing backflips” There would be a reason a native born player was 26 and still in AAA with those numbers, Abreu and Kang aren’t native born players. His fictional situation didn’t say Kang, he said if a prospect did that in AA(or AAA) we would be doing backflips and I said if the player was 28 he wouldn’t be called a prospect. I think you’re reading too much into what I said or not reading what he said. There are clearly perameters set by what we both said that eliminates me from saying Kang=Hyzdu. In fact, if you read the article, it says I ranked him 11th, which clearly means I don’t think he is Hyzdu

                • No, I was giving leo the benefit of the doubt that he understood appropriate prospect age for AA since he’s seen, oh, a few thousand games and was accounting for the fact that Kang is foreign born.

                  But, you are correct. He didn’t explicitly state as much.

                  Regardless, I think we’re on the same page. The interaction is always appreciated, and have a Merry Christmas.

                  • No, don’t give me any credit NMR, I don’t try do this for a living. And yes, that is me being sarcastic. I also don’t usually attempt to parse words. And if Kang isn’t a prospective middle infielder in regards to playing Major League baseball, possibly John will explain THAT to me.

                • Okay, so working backwards, how many HR would Jordy Mercer hit in the KBO?

            • OK then, working backwards, how many home runs in a year would you expect Jordy Mercer to hit in the KBO?

        • The problem with your thinking John is you missed the real point. Let me add also, even an Adam Hyzdu couldn’t hit 40 in AA. By the way,if Adam Hyzdu had used steroids, he would ‘ve hit as many HRs in MLB as many other lesser players did in the early 2000s.

  • Another appreciated article Tim and Merry Xmas to you and your staff. I’ve been a daily reader since the beginning and a former asylum member. Not sure what I’d do without my daily fix.
    As for Kang, I tend to be a little bullish on him and believe he will displace a starter and I figure it to be Mercer. I agree that could change based on how Pedro does at first and other health reasons. I see him as a Peralta type too, and although the team perfers excellent defense up the middle I think his bat will translate to a being a key part of the lineup. Someone mentioned a comp to Kolten Wang and I think that’s a big improvement over what Jordy brings to the plate.
    Anyway Merry Christmas to everyone, especially the guys who’ve been posting together since the PG days. Happy Holidays all!

  • Tim….excellent prognosis.

  • Nice take, Tim, and best of luck with the Prospect Guide.

    As you move from a site that collects Pirate information published by others to one that offers unique scouting and analysis, I think your best move would be to not rank a player like Kang at all. Scouting highlight videos is no way to gain a solid appreciation of a prospects value, after all.

    I like your process of ranking prospects in tiers, and think it’s fair at this point to theoretically place Kang in one of them as you’ve done in this article. As a reader, I’d prefer actual top-30 placement waiting until at least after Spring Training, when your guys can get their own eyes on him.

    • Taking this thought a bit further, Kang would seem to fit in the back end of Tier 3 or Tier 4 according to PP Mid-Season rankings.

      Jacoby Jones at #14 would actually seem to be a pretty good target for judging Kang’s place in the system. Jones has a future profile similar to what has been suggested of Kang, but as a less polished, more athletic version.

  • So if Kang signs for 3 years let’s say, does that mean he has 3 years of team control after that, during which he is arbitration eligible? Or does he just become a free agent?

    I know this discussion came up with the Radhames Liz situation but I wasnt quite clear on how this all worked.

    Merry Christmas to all.

    • Typically players who come over from Japan have a clause in their deal allowing them to be a free agent when their contract expires. I’m assuming the same will be true of Kang.

      Liz would be a bit different, since he’s just trying to break back into the majors.

  • formerdraftpick
    December 24, 2014 8:05 am

    Hi Tim, I have been a supporter of your books the past few years and have met a few of your fellow writers either at Piratefest or minor league games. Have you ever thought about selling a limited edition autographed copy by all of your team? Or even a few that were signed by specific prospects?

  • If Kang was truly a difference maker, the Yankees / Red Sox or another large market team would have spent big to sign him. He probably is at best a part time starter in the MLB. Anyone who thinks this triggers a Walker trade or other move to clear room for Mr. Kang is being at least premature, and most likely wrong.

    • I disagree. Ichiro’s posting fee was $13M. If anyone knew that his game would translate to a HOF career, I’m guessing his price would have been a heck of a lot higher.

      Jose Abreu signed for ~ $11M/yr. Most teams, Pirates included, could afford that contract.

      My point is, it’s a crapshoot. Kang might become a super-sub, or struggle in ST…start the season in AAA and flop there, or someone may go down and he steps in and the Pirates have a superstar on their hands. The only way to know is hindsight.

      But, I definitely agree with you that he’s not coming in to steal someone’s job. Unless Kang does something magical in ST, everyone from Alvarez around to Harrison is set.

      • i agree he is an insurance policy on the bottom dropping out. his ceiling is high, we could prolly not afford his upside on the fa market. of course on the low side is snake eyes and he busts. medium risk with high rewards if it pans out. this imo is the type of risks we should be taking.

    • Clearly infallible logic seeing as Aroldis Chapman, Jose Abreu, and Yoenis Cespedes were all signed by the Yankees or Red Sox.

      Makes sense.

    • Not my point. There is no doubt in my mind Walker will be traded if he doesn’t sign an extension. NH does not care that he’s from Pittsburgh, and he won’t let him lose value by holding. Trade deadline at the latest if the Pirates are not contending, possibly before spring training if the right deal comes along (i.e. Padres).

      • NH also doesnt trade away valuable assets without a decent replacement in mind. Walker wont get moved this year unless the team vastly underperforms, and next offseason is the logical time to have this discussion.

    • Look who came out of his hole, and right around when the Pirates could come close to a $100m payroll too.
      You aren’t even a fan, all you do is bitch and moan and bring up things that happened in 2004 to justify what you think will happen now.

  • We do have a clue about how KBO stats will translate, but there’s more difference of opinion, and less reliability, than there is with, for example, Triple-A stats.

    There have been nearly 120 positions players play in the KBO and also other leagues over the past 15 years. Their past records suggest Kang can be a somewhat above average MLB hitter, with a 250 or 260’s BA and 20 homer power. Think of Jhonny Peralta between 2005 and 2009, or even last year. I wouldn’t have paid what the Cardinals did for Peralta, but 4/25, which the Pirates will likely spend for Kang, is a much better deal.

    The KBO translations can be improved, and I will be looking at the following items in the next couple of weeks.

    Their league wide home run percentages have bounced up and down, and last year was up. If evidence suggests that it’s because of differences in the ball, Instead of using a long term average, individual seasons can be adjusted.

    Park factors can be calculated, and applied based on how many times each batter went to the plate in each stadium. I will also gather box scores from Japan to determine their park factors, thus improving the NPB projections, as many past players on whom the translations are based had played in only Korea and Japan.

    • Peralta is a nice ceiling to dream on, but seriousy, that’s a 5.8 war player last year (for however I feel about WAR.) What I do know is that guys like Thames and Pie had career .720-.740 OPS’s in the Majors. And Kang outhit those guys. If we get that, or more, from a guy playing short, or even second, and I’ll be quite happy it this signing.

      • I think the Peralta (and Ian Desmond) comp is used because those are the only shortstops in today’s game that can be expected to put up 20 HR (and aren’t name Troy Tulowitzki).

        Second, Peralta is still viewed very differently by defensive metrics (thus 5.8 wins last year) than he is by “traditional” scouting. I think if traditional scouts had their way, Peralta would’ve been moved off the position years ago. Similarly, you’re hearing from the scouting community that Kang doesn’t have the chops to stick at SS right now, thus the comparison.

        • I didn’t realize Peralta accumulated that much WAR last year, even though my own formula awarded him 4.2, after seasons of 0.4, 3.4, 1.3, and 2.9. I had a generally poor impression of his defense, but my metrics gave him +4 last year, his best in recent memory.

          I was thinking of Peralta’s 263/336/443 slash line, which is very close to what I project Kang for, to go with below average running speed and what I generally thought was below average defense.

          I’m expecting around 2.0 to 2.5 WAR fro Kang for each 600 PA, and think the price he is asking is quite reasonable for the projection.

    • I look forward to seeing your results.

      It wouldn’t surprise me if Kang has the higher WAR among Pirate IF’s this season.

  • If kang does half as well in the bigs as he did in the kbo I think the pirates will be more than happy with their investment. ( which seem to be pointing at the 5-6 mil per year range)

    • My opinion only, and probably wrong, but I think the bid for Kang allows Neal Huntington to leverage a Neil Walker deal at a level lower than Walker is seeking. If that does not work I expect Walker to be traded. We all see how one year to free agency players have not been bringing the return in trades that you might expect, and I don’t think Huntington will get to that point with Walker. If he can’t get a team friendly deal worked out with Walker he’ll be traded before the end of the year. Just the way the Pirates do business.

      Merry Christmas All, and May God Bless You and Yours!

      • Joe: Merry Christmas. I doubt there is much mileage using Kang for a leveraged deal for Walker. This is an untried entity coming from a league that would probably rate lower than all of the Caribbean Winter Leagues. On the Pirates 2014 team, Walker was 2nd in HR’s at 23, 2nd in RBI’s at 73, 2nd in OPS at .809, and had a very respectable WAR Value. And, due to a lack of support from Pedro and any other LH hitter, he became the #4 hitter behind ‘Cutch against RH pitchers.

        They need to sign Walker long term (IMO, he will be our 1B in 2015 or 2016), extend ‘Cutch for at least 5 more years. Of course, I am one of those “now” people who would like to see the Pirates leverage Worley, Locke, & Mel Rojas, Jr. in a trade to Philly for Cole Hamels – it may take more, but this is my opinion and it too is probably wrong. A Rotation of Hamels, Cole, Liriano, Burnett, and Cumpton/Kingham sounds real good to me.

        • JoseGuillensArm
          December 24, 2014 8:02 am

          Haha that trio might get Hamels to make an appearance and sign autographs

        • You would have to add, at the least, Glasnow and Josh Bell to your list. And quite possibly Meadows. Not to mention the fact that RAJ already had traded Vance Worley 2 years ago.

          • Philly is in a fire sale and Hamels is making $22.5 mil per year for the next 4 or 5 years. Worley and Locke are already MLB-qualified starting pitchers combining in 2014 for 38 starts, a winning record of 15-10, an ERA of around 3.30, both are under team control for 4 more years, and their combined cost would be around $3 mil. The Phillies have not parted with the guy as yet so maybe the offers from other teams have not been overwhelming? Anybody taking on $22.5 mil a year cannot afford to give up top prospects as well. 2 now MLB SP’s and a young prospect like Rojas, Jr is enough to get the attention of the Phillies.

            • You think so ? I don’t want to disillusion you, but that wouldn’t get you a Cole Hamels, sorry. And as I pointed out to you earlier, why would RAJ, or whoever is pulling the strings in that organization, want Worley returned to them ? They just traded him 2 seasons ago for a less than scintillating CFer. By the way, compared to what Lester got paid, not to mention the haul Scherzer will get, Hamel’s salary going ahead is not really a bad deal at all, seeing he is at least as good, if not better than either of them.

              • leo: I thought Worley was in a contract that he could trigger FA if not promoted to the majors by a certain date – The Pirates jumped on him right away, and he has been very good for the Pirates. His numbers last year were the equivalent of a # 2/3 although only in 17 starts. I too do not think the $22.5 is a lot in today’s market for a # 1/1.5. While James Shields is still available, a team interested in either would choose Shields if the Phillies are looking for too much. If the Pirates do not go after a Hamels, and every other team in the NL Central does the same, I could live with it. But, how would we feel if another team in the NL Central like the Cardinals or Brewers pulled off a trade for Hamels for a very reasonable price? I consider Worley, Locke, and Rojas as valuable to many other teams, but possibly guys who will not get a lot of opportunities this year with the Pirates – let’s get something while their values are up.

                • TIM: By the way, the 3 copies of the Pirates Prospects Guide for 2015 arrived on Christmas Eve and just in time to give copies to my two sons who were in for our annual Feast of the Seven Fishes Christmas Eve Dinner. I got into the book Christmas Day and it is a fantastic presentation and well worth the cost. A “must” for any Pirate Fan.

                • Vance Worley was traded by the Phillies, along with Trevor May in prior to the 2013 season, for Ben Revere. The Twins traded him to the Pirates last March for cash considerations.

                  • leo: I was listening to MLB Radio this morning and heard JP Morosi talk about Hamels going to either the Padres or the Red Sox. One of the reasons he gave for the Red Sox is that they now have Joe Kelly and that is the type of guy the Phillies would be looking for if they traded Hamels – a young MLB pitcher with 3 or 4 years of control remaining. Now, after he said that he also talked about the possibility of adding a Catcher, or a prospect to satisfy the Phillies. If you look at Kelly, Worley, and Locke, they are all 27 and all have 4 more years of control. Kelly is 21-16 with a 3.41 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 3.4 W/9; Worley is 27-22 with a 3.75 ERA, 7.0 K/9, 2.8 W/9; Locke is 18-19, 4.00 ERA, 6.1 K/9, 2.7 W/9. It may still be out of the question to get him, but the basis is not all that far out. Then I heard another guy on another show mention Hamels to the Cubs for Baez and Addison Russell – now that is too much in my estimation especially when a team has to take on $22.5 mil per year.

                    • First of all, if any organization gives up a Cole Hamels for a deal that includes Javier Baez, they need to fire that GM immediately ! As for the Sox giving up Kelly, that would just leave another hole in the rotation to fill, though they would have a great # 1. Lastly, I just told you, and twice, the Phillies are NEVER going to trade for a guy they just traded away 2 years ago. Case closed.

        • Haha yeah two back end of the rotation starters and a potential 4th outfielder might not do it.

        • Any trade for Hamels starts with Polanco or Marte, and one of the top 3 pitching prospects. You can throw in Locke and another mid level minor leaguer. I don’t mind losing Polanco for the right deal. Short term we don’t know if he can help, long term we have Bell. The real question is how much of Hamels salary would we have to take on. right now we dont have the budget for it in 2015.

          • Marte alone is likely more valuable than Hamels over the next four seasons and will cost about 1/4 as much.

            The Pirates would be insane to make that trade.

        • Are you guys assuming Philly eats all of Hamels contract in order to command prospect/player packages like you’re suggesting?

          Nobody will be taking on Hamels contract AND giving up multiple players of Polanco/Glasnow/Marte/Bell value. That would be insanely dumb.

          • Yes, there is no $20M surplus in the payroll budget.

          • Ian Rothermund
            December 24, 2014 5:15 pm

            With the way the Phillies GM has acted about expected trade returns, I’d let them continue to fail and embarrass themselves. The entertainment derived from that is way more valuable than any aggressive trade like that.

        • Tony Ventimiglio
          December 25, 2014 4:04 pm

          There is no need to sign Walker. He is under control for 2015 & 2016. He will turn 32 during the 2017 season, his first year of FA if we dont resign him. I dont see any value in paying him for his 2017 season or aferword based on his current achievements due to his injury problems. We get no advantage on the arbitration years and will be overpaying for post arbitration.

      • I don’t see Kang as leverage for anything, but as a high-risk, high-reward insurance policy for the infield.

        If Pedro doesn’t find himself, Walker to first, Kang to second.
        Walker gets injured…again…Kang to second.
        Mercer falls into a batting blackhole again in the first couple months of the season and Kang may play SS or play 3B and Harrison slides over.
        Harrison shows to be a one-year-wonder…and it’s Kang to 3B.

        I’m not predicting or hoping any of these happen, but I think that’s why Kang’s there. If none of those things occur and Kang just becomes a two-day/week guy who spells the regulars, I’m incredibly happy because that means the Bucs will have one of the top hitting infields in MLB.

        • The risk is not particularly high. If he winds up signing a 4 year, $20 million contract (plus the $5m posting fee), he would be getting paid the going rate for a slightly less than 1 WAR player. That is not a lot of money these days by MLB standards.

          • True, no disagreement in that context. I only refer to is as high-risk considering this will, most likely, be one of the largest contracts the team has ever awarded. Off the top of my head, aside from the Marte/McCutchen extensions and the Liriano deal, I don’t think the Pirates have ever went $25M.

            • Its not 25 million per year, so at 5 million per year its less than what they gave to Clint Barmes for 2012 and 2013. Its a Clint Barmes deal for 1-2 extra years. Its a wild card, but a cheap wildcard by current market standards.

              • I understand. My point is simply, if memory serves correctly and Kang is signed, it will be the largest dollar amount committed to a player who has no history with the team.

                • Teams wont really think like that, because they could give a young bench player a 5 year deal worth 4 million per and it’d be “the largest overall deal to any non Pirate player” but they see it as a basically no risk move. This move is Clint Barmes money with an additional year or two, which wont break any team. For this move to go bad (assuming it actually happens) Kang would have to be replacement level each year.

      • NW isnt a FA until 2017, so if he is playing well they really have no reason to trade him during the season this season. It’d make more sense to shop him in the offseason, since he would have a year of control left. To say that one year of control tampers value, but trading him with 1.5 years of control would greatly increase value doesnt make a great deal of sense unless Kang is playing very well. Walkers value on the team would be greater than the increased value, particularly since Kang is a giant unknown and Hanson needs a year or two.

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