Update on Jung-Ho Kang’s Negotiations, Gaby Sanchez Heads to Japan

Bill Brink had an article this morning in which he says that the agent of Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang is confident they will come to an agreement with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Alan Nero represents Kang and he called the negotiations very positive, saying that Neal Huntington has “tried very hard to basically come to the table with an offer”. The two sides have until January 20th to reach an agreement.

Initial contract estimates said that Kang and his agent were looking for a deal ranging from two to four years and $5-6 M per year, with a lower salary per year the longer the contract goes. Those totals would be on top of the $5,002,015 bid they put in to win his negotiating rights.

Inside the article, which I recommend checking out, Nero said that the Pirates weren’t the team showing the most interest, so it was surprising to him that they won the rights to negotiate with Kang. Tim Williams recently talked about where Kang could fit in with the Pirates in 2015 and beyond.

Gaby Sanchez has reached an agreement with the Rakuten Eagles of the Japanese Pacific League. He signed a one-year deal worth approximately $2.5 M, with a chance to make more through incentives. The Pirates non-tendered Sanchez on December 3rd, making him a free agent.


  • This really tells you what ML thinks of Gaby right now. He had to go over seas to get a paltry 2.5M. This is not a player’s first choice. We did good on non-tendering him. He probably would have stayed in the states for 1.5M

    • Not sure about that Y2J. Gaby’s made less than $6 mil his entire career (pre taxes and agent, of course) and is 31 years old. I think every million counts for a guy like that.

      • Fans really underestimate this, imo. They see a guy making 6 million his entire career as a huge sum (which it is) but any human is going to try to maximize his profit from his skills and bank for his family. For the non-superstars, 2.5 million aint nothing. Didnt look like Gaby had a long list of suitors and the long he waited the lower the price was, so he got paid. Good for him and his family.

  • Lee Foo Young
    January 8, 2015 10:09 am

    Hypo Question on a frigid winter’s day:

    If Kang’s bat translates, but his fielding doesn’t where does he play?
    a) Util guy
    b) 2b (Move Walker to 1b or trade him?)
    c) 3b (make JHay the 2b man or util guy?)
    d) none of the above?

    • Assuming glove doesn’t translate at ss but does at 3b and is equal to that of jhay.. my vote is 3b.. though, i could easily come off that if fo sees jhay as our 3b of the future and is extended

    • a- is not an option, b, c and d(1st base) are options.
      His glove will translate IMO, if it does not 25mil will go down the drain! He looks very good to me both with the glove and the bat.

      • Lee Foo Young
        January 8, 2015 12:37 pm

        why is ‘a’ not an option? There’s been lots of talk about him being a util guy.

        • And in your hypothetical, utility is actually the MOST likely option.

          If the bat plays, you find a position for him, as the old adage goes.

        • I’m interpreting the talk of Kang as a utility guy to be for 2015 only, until they see what they’ve really got. IF – and that’s a capital IF – they offer a long term contract and he’s what they hope, then I’d expect him to become a regular by 2016. If they only offer 2 years, then maybe utility is the ultimate role.

          • At 5 million or so a year, i sure hope they go 3-4 years. Even in a worst case scenario where he struggles to hit .250 with 10-12 HRs, at 5 million per you put him on the bench and its not a terrible contract.

          • I don’t think utility guy and regular are necessarily that far apart in 2015 Major League Baseball. At least not the good ones.

      • He isn’t tall enough to play first base effectively- next

      • He isn’t tall enough to play first base effectively- next

        • Mike Napoli has been the most valuable defensive first basemen in baseball over the last two seasons, and is listed at 6′-0″…Just like Kang.

        • Anyone 6 foot can do it, so as long as he isnt lying to the tune of about 2 inches he is fine. You dont want a 5’10 or below option at 1B, but anyone near 6 foot wont see struggles with high throws. That, and it’d make more sense for PIT to move Kang to 3B and shift others around at this point, at least imo. In the hypothetical where we dont have Pedro anymore, Walker makes sense at 1B unless his power goes back to mid teen levels and Kang is a .260+ hitter with 20 HRs or more.

      • A is the most likely option, its really only fans that act like when he signs he will be given a starting spot. Paying 5 million a year to a guy in no way forces the Pirates to start him, and he has no spot as of right now. Unless you wanna argue he is likely to be clearly better than Harrison or Walker.

        • I don’t think his acquisition cost dictates anything.. not sure where that came from? I just think there’s little information on his skills and plugging him in as a utility player does little to improve an understanding of what he can do.. providing constant at bats at a single position is much more beneficial.. whether those at bats are in the minors like most players, or in the majors would depend on how they currently view him

          • Agreed him starting provides the best look into his skills, and if thats the goal then he should be in AAA. He is not a guy you give a starting job to over Walker or Harrison, and Pedro is at 1B clearly. The vast majority of scouts admit he could be a competent bench player right now, so the issue with “we gotta find out about his skills so he has to start” is that it may very well weaken the bench. I think the team can bring him in and judge his skills against their SP while keeping him on the bench. In fact, he would have all of ST to get reps against ML level talent and give the team a small show of his stuff.

            • Agreed. . I’m actually confused as to why they are bringing him in..

              • They have made a rather clear attempt to upgrade the bench, likely to avoid last years situation. At worst, Kang is in AAA and if a need arises he is brought up to fill a bench role. He could start the year in the majors on the bench and be a valuable bench tool. The least likely option is him starting right away, and signing him at 5 million per year with his potential upside is too good to pass up for PIT.

                • I actually thought their bench players Harrison & snider held their own last year.. a bit surprising to hear all the negative comments about the bench actually

                  • You cant call Harrison a bench player since after April he got starting playing time the whole way. The bench was very bad come August and September, and thats clear. No team can find itself with Nix, Morel, and Martinez on the bench and call itself satisfied. Our bench the majority of the year saw its best player as Snider, with a steep drop from that point.

                    • Sure I can.. free agents worth a damn were all signed by opening day sir.. and I recall many a folk whining that jhay made the 25man.. but due to our excellent bench, we were able to absorb the drop in performance of our everyday 3b.. I applaud the front office for sticking with jhay as a bench guy..

                    • Congrats, you just made the argument that any player who isnt a starter on OD counts all year long as a bench player. Not only that, but as many have pointed out Harrison was a crappy bench player while he was doing that role. It was only once he got starting playing time he played well, so it doesnt help your argument at all. The players that PIT depended on to be good in the role of bench players were nearly all either hurt or below average. Without Snider the second half of the year, our bench was a joke.

                    • You’re off base on this one, Lukas.

                    • Then feel free to argue that the Pirates bench was above average last year, or that Josh Harrison was a bench player most of last year. Harrison simply cannot be called a “bench player” when speaking of how the bench played for us last year. As a bench player, Harrison was actually bad. He was given starting time and played great. But the role of bench player has seen this team struggle to find quality options apart from middle infield defense and backup catcher. Our options for bats off the bench have been a bit embarrassing sans Snider the second half of last year.

                    • You’re missing the forest through the trees.

                    • Im arguing that any player who sits the bench day 1 isnt a bench player all year, purely that and nothing more. The team, with the addition of Kang, greatly improved its depth from last year to this year. Which isnt hard to do with a track record of Sutton, Nix, Martinez, etc etc. If there was one area PIT needed to improve on, it was putting decent options on the bench.

                    • Are you suggesting lucas, that these bench bats you’re looking for were available as free agents after opening day?

                    • I think there were better options than Martinez after opening day, yeah. If an OFer went down last year, i like Polanco and Lambo as first brought up (Harrison obviously filled a void). If an IF went down last year as they did, give me Dean Anna before Martinez or Nix. Give me a Placido Polanco signing before Martinez. There are no great options once a guy gets injured, but there are better options than possibly the worst hitter in baseball.

                    • Actually that is precisely my point.. It’s my view that talent is obtained during the free agency period. . Once opening day starts then you have to trade for talent

                    • Or, you know, promote any of the guys in the minors. Once OD starts this coming season we will have a very good arm sitting in AAA in Taillon. If they really wanted to, they could promote him and likely upgrade from Locke/Worley. Talent can be obtained during FA, but at market price. Quality teams can, at times, forgo paying retail and wait for a younger player to get called up. More variance, less money.

                    • Well lukas.. sense we’ve been talking about bench bats and your example above is taillon, whom if you didn’t know is a pitcher, I conclude an end to a need for further debate. .

                    • Dean Anna, Andrew Lambo, Blake Davis, even Tommy Field before Martinez. I’ll give ya Morel, guy had experience and isnt the worst option in a pinch. But playing Michael Martinez over Davis or Field or even Placido freaking Polanco in a pick up move is insane. Lambo would be a fine bench bat. Last year the injuries would make our bench not great no matter what, but our bench was terrible because we basically wasted a spot on a guy that even the Phillies knew was turrible.

                    • Lambo actually had bad timing with his injuries last year.. unfortunate cause it would have been nice to have given some at bats last year

                    • We also didn’t have any quality prospects come up and push the starter to the bench, which is the best way to improve the bench.. you’re rarely going to find a player of value willing to except a minor league contract, which is what you’re suggesting they do.. the one guy that did last year was chris Dickerson. . Unfortunately he didn’t play 2b/3b, where we needed a guy

                    • No, im suggesting they sign guys like Kang and Rodriguez. The type of guys that are overmatched as starters but provide value in some way. Kang can hit it, Rodriguez plays decent defense at a ton of spots. Snider is a decent bat. At least Barmes provided value, but we had no real depth behind Barmes once he got injured. Now, we have good depth at OF in AAA and a decent amount of passable infielders in case a starter gets hurt. Last year, once Walker went down we had guys like Nix.

                    • Rodriguez is actually replacing jhay.. not martinez

                    • Rodriguez has no perfect comparison because he plays different spots than J Hay. He is replacing the journeyman of J Hay, but can play SS well enough that he also is likely our first option off the bench at SS if Mercer has the flu. Once Barmes went down last year, we really didnt have a backup SS. We dont need one as bad with Mercer, so we mixed the roles.

                    • There ya go.. once mercer is hurt Rodriguez comes off the bench.. which is very much like walker getting hurt and jhay coming off the bench last year. . Sounds like we are on the same page

                    • That moment when you realize we’ve been arguing semantics for three hours. 😉

                    • You’d think i’d recognize that sooner after debating with you over the last couple of weeks!

                    • And we’re even on this same page on this one!

                    • No, once Mercer is hurt Rodriguez is the SS until they find a better alternative. If Mercer gets hurt 3 weeks into the season and Rodriguez starts 80% of the games the rest of the way, you dont call him a bench player. You admit he was brought in to be a bench guy but a starter for 90% of the year.

                    • Btw.. you don’t know anything of what kang can do.. he can easily have the same potential as martinez last year.. so saying he fixes a problem is a little short sighted

                    • You are treating Martinez like a decent depth option. He was TERRIBLE, even in AAA. There is no way any team should allow him to play ML ball when in a division race. Statistically, Martinez was one of the worst hitters in baseball before we got him. Kang is a near lock be a better hitter than Martinez, purely because Martinez may be the least useful hitter in MLB the last few years. II dont know what Kang can do, but he would have to hit his worst case scenario and then some to be Martinez.

                      This is how bad Martinez was before we got him: since 1901, 4439 hitters have gotten 400+ plate appearances (excluding pitchers). His batting average ranked 4427th and his OPS ranked 4421st. WOWZA. The fact that he was our depth was troubling. He should have been the AAA depth you keep to fill out the AAA team when someone…anyone…else got called up.

                    • Agreed on Harrison (who acrtually sucked as a bench player) but the Pirates PHs were 5th in NL in OPS, ahead of all the other playoff teams. 6th in wOBA and wRC+ (LAD snuck in ahead of them). I can’t get the breakdown for early/late season, but in no way was their bench bad for the year.
                      Yes, once they had the AAA/AAAA players in due to simultaneous injuries, things weren’t great. But that’s going to be the case again this year. Even if Kang signs and is MLB ready, if Walker, Jordy and Barmes all go down at the same time again, we’re gonna see Floriman or some equally bad option. Unless Floriman proves to be much better than Mornixez

                    • The Front Office truly can’t win. One fan says the bench sucked because they had crappy players, another guy says they may be paying better bench players too much.

                    • Florimon is a bad hitter, but that still makes him a better hitter than Martinez. Yes, if multiple guys go down its tough. But last year, we brought up a player who couldnt hit AAA pitching and played him in the OF for no real reason. If Walker goes down and Rodriguez is hurt (comparable situation to Walker and Barmes hurt last year) we could slip Harrison to 2B and Kang at 3B (or vice versa) and have Seller or Florimon on the bench. No great option, but far better than Morel or Martinez.

                    • Much appreciated sir

                    • Also, I think Harrison was only hitting about .217 at the beginning of May in the bench role. He just needed consistent ABs, like many players.

                    • There’s a small issue with sss partner

                    • What a genius you are ! Did you even read the entire comment I made ? From the looks of it, I’d guess the answer would be ” no “.

                    • Lol.. I think me eyeballs were too tired at that point

                    • Lol.. I think I was trying to cover too many responses and me eyeballs were getting tired

                    • The bench was bad come August and September because the two best bats were starting and combined fr 4.3 WAR.

                      Good luck finding any club that can get that kind of production PLUS refill the bench with quality players behind them.

                      Hell, the World Champs were starting Travis freaking Ishikawa in the World freaking Series…as an outfielder.

                    • Feel free to defend the bench, but that is very clearly the one area PIT has decided it doesnt care about offensively. Yeah, Harrison became a starter, but that doesnt mean we had a bench player so good he knocked a starter off. At any given time of the year, our bench was giving us below average production. Not there fault, as the majority of the bench was acquired for its defense. PIT showed a love of light hitting versatile guys that play defense.

                      This will be the first year we enter the year with 2 bench players that profile as solid PH options in many years. I dont ask for quality players, but for an even bench. Ill take a backup C that doesnt hit well but plays solid defense. Ill take a backup SS type that isnt a great hitter but a glove man. However, i wont take another 1-2 players that have serious offensive holes in their game like Gaby. It handcuffs the manager when he needs a PH. You gotta give a manager 2 players that can be used as a PH that dont make us all groan. The current bench, with Kang, is solid.

                    • You don’t even know what Kang is right now, and Gaby was exactly the type of bench bat you want.

                      There’s 29 other teams in baseball that would’ve loved to be able to pull two players into the starting lineup throughout the year who were able to put up a combined 6.6 WAR.

                      You expecting the team to be able to fill in MORE quality players behind them is absolutely unreasonable. Find me other teams that could do the same and you’ll change my mind.

                    • Gaby was the exact type of bench bat i dont want, because when he gets announced any quality manager simply replaces his pitcher with a RHP. Gaby was useful only against LHP, so using him off the bench is at best strategic to get a pitcher out of the game. You dont bring in Gaby down 1 with a runner on late in the game.

                    • Haha, your grasp on what constitutes an average bench bat is hilarious.

                    • Ignoring the rather odd condescension, its my belief that when your bench is going to have 2 very light hitting options no questions asked (backup SS and backup C) you then dont really want another purely bench option to not hit well against 75% of what you see. Gaby is fine if the bench includes more than 1 solid hitter, but last year Snider was the only bench bat that was average or better. I like Gaby, but our bench construction gave us 1 decent PH option against RHP.

              • lonleylibertarian
                January 8, 2015 3:51 pm

                40 HRs

                • Hey.. you’re alive..

                  • lonleylibertarian
                    January 8, 2015 4:40 pm

                    Had a long period of deep depression after Saturday nights debacle…
                    Just coming out of it….

                    If you look at the offensive trends in BB HRs are down in the NL almost 30% since 2000, Huntington said on one of his Sunday shows how hard it was to find power and how valuable power and potential power are. Hence the patience with Pedro – and the roll of the dice on Kang. If he can hit 25+ homers they will find a spot for him.

            • Well.. I read the question as like opening day where does he play.. it doesn’t actually stipulate that though so all of what i said is likely jiberish.. lol

          • I do think an initial stint in AAA is a good idea, but I’m not as sympathetic to the whole do-whatever-it-takes-to-make-him-comfortable thing. I think the Pirates are at a point where they have to prioritize the team over the player.

            • I agree.. which is why I don’t completely understand the investment in such uncertainty. . The team is comprised of players my friend.. doing what’s best for the development of a player is best for the team.. if a player needs consistent ab’s they should not be called up until they are able to provide them

              • Pedro wants to play 3B, right?

                Watch how far you take that whats-best-for-the-player dogma.

              • Well, not really. If you have a guy who has had success in the pros before and is set at the spot, that is better for the team than a 50/50 shot another play will also play well at that spot. Kang isnt a young prospect, but he also hasnt seen for sure AAA type pitchers yet. He may very well need extended time to adjust to a higher level of play, and we cant afford to let a player adjust at a spot we already have quality at. Its why Travis Snider played in September last year and Polanco didnt, Snider was red hot even though more playing time is what would have been best for Polanco.

                • Ya.. my point was with regards to where kang begins opening day.. that wasn’t the intent of the question. . So I took this thing on my own little island. . If after x at bats in AAA kang has settled in as a utility player, then that’s what he is.. my only point was that he should not be pegged as a utility player until he’s provided an opportunity to prove otherwise. . Especially given how much pressure is going to be placed on him from his home country

                  • Which is true when only, or mainly, considering his talent first. If he was about to play for the Astros he would likely be given a starting spot to see what he has. If he was playing for a team that had a glaring need at either 3B or 2B he may be given an early shot. PIT likely sees him as a starter going forward, or at very least worth the money of seeing if he can be. However, for PIT during the upcoming season, Kang could easily be worth a ML roster spot but not a starting spot. Doesnt mean PIT thinks that is all he can do, but they think its where he best helps the team. At this point, team first and tryouts second. If we had 2-3 guys on the fringe of a spot but nothing nailed down, give Kang a month. We dont, so let him be a valuable bench bat this year.

                    • Considering his talent first? We don’t know his talent level before opening day.. I think you’re just drunk and babbling at this point sir lukas

                    • The team will have somewhat of a view on his talent level by OD. They have already, clearly, scouted him and will bring him to ST to give him work with the team. PIT cant give him a starting job, but for you that means he goes to AAA. To anyone being realistic, it means he may still very well be a useful bench bat and warrant a chance to be a bench player on a contender. He is blocked from starting, but he aint blocked from contributing.

                • Not to start up another debate, but what the heck.. your example of snider/ Polanco is a very interesting comparison my friend. . Cause Polanco hasn’t actually proven to be a compatible major leaguer, yet the word on the street is he’s being handed the job based off his potential

                  • Well the you must have hated the big league team sitting Polanco for Snider, even though it was the right move because Snider hit like a top 25 player in baseball down the stretch. Yes, Polanco spending a year on the bench is bad for his development. He spent about a month on the bench. You are basically comparing Polanco to Kang in terms of the situation, and thats bogus. Polanco has 4 tools and AAA success, and deserves a shot to start out of ST. Kang played in what is likely closest to AA with a ton of unknowns, and is at a spot we already have a quality option. If Snider had more than 1-2 months of great play in the last 3 years, maybe its the same situation.

                    • I’m actually a huge snider fan so i’d like to see Polanco start the season in AAA until he gets close to 500 ab’s : )
                      What’s your thoughts on why Polanco struggled? Did he just wear out

                    • Kid got tired and did what about 90% of rookies do….he was inconsistent. I hear talk of how he “struggled” but never see people admit he actually had stretches of great hitting, followed by stretches of struggling. He was learning to adapt to ML pitching, it happens. It’d be like STL saying since Oscar Tavares (RIP) hit .240 that Jon Jay deserved to start over him on OD.

                      I like Snider, but i dont understand people taking 170 at bats and using that as proof that he deserves to start. He deserves a roster spot, but 170 great at bats dont guarantee much. Particularly when one option is “Polanco starts and gets a chance to take over the job, Snider is a solid bench bat ready to go” and some fans agree the other option is “Snider gets a chance to take over the job, Polanco goes back to AAA where he put up video game numbers already and we use a lesser OF for our bench”.

                    • The national talking heads, which I generally ignor, are saying jordy’s in jeopardy of losing his job to kang.. if the happens you owe me a beer my friend!

                    • If you seriously think Mercer has any chance of losing his job after putting up 2 WAR at SS, i had more faith in you than i should have. The national talking heads ignore PIT 1/2 the year and then act like they know something. Yeah, PIT is really gonna put a kid that has no ML success in at SS (where scouts are unsure about his abilities to stick there) over the kid who has put up 2 quality season in a row. Riiiight.

                      If you purely go by WAR, Mercer was the 13th best SS last year while making less than all but 1 player above him. PIT is getting quality value at minimal salary and loving it. Kang is a great addition….for the bench this year.

                    • Yuengling works for me sir.. I actually can’t see kang being anywhere but on 3rd in indy for rhe first two months.. i’d hate to see our everyday shortstop learning the defensive positioning on the fly.. it was good to hear you actually did have some faith in me though.. lol

                    • Lol i try. I see no reason for the team to start Kang in AAA, particularly because they then either roll with a different bench option they already have in AAA (Lambo blocked, so no real better option than Kang) or sign a FA (of which, it aint great pickings.)

            • Well said. Thankfully (and i cant emphasize that enough) we are beyond the point of being “able” to let a player sink or swim without concern for the W/L’s.

              • I do get rick’s point, get the most out of a player and it helps the team. Sure.

                I just don’t think I’m as strict with how he applies it. If getting the most out of Kang ultimately leaves a better current (or future) player in the lurch, then I’m not sure that is a net gain.

                • Agreed… as i’ve had to go back and clean this debate up.. my thoughts were related to kang’s spot on the opening day roster.. not with respect to where he eventually fits in after x number of bats, likely in triple a.. as a 3b

  • Lee Foo Young
    January 8, 2015 10:05 am

    Gaby….the next Randy Bass?? 😄😄😄😄

  • The smaller parks will be nice for Gaby. He will probably put up great numbers over there.

    • Not that this means anything but Matt Murton had a .788 OPS in the MLB and an .809 OPS in Japan. He has become a different kind of hitter there though despite the similar OPS. A more aggressive line drive guy who hit for high average. It surprises me that he never came back to the MLB. he must make too much money there as a top player to come back to the mlb and possibly be a 4th OF.

      • Lee Foo Young
        January 8, 2015 10:07 am

        I was always a Murton fan. Excellent 4th OFer, bench guy, imho.

        • He would be great for the Pirates as a 4th OF because he pounds lefties. Not that they really need him but I think he would be a better Chris Heisey type righty 4th OF.

  • Same team that revived Casey McGehee’s career. Good luck Gaby!

    • Ha! Nice spot.

      I don’t mean to imply that Major League Baseball is going to be hurting without the Gaby Sanchez’s of the world, but it is interesting to see foreign leagues outbidding MLB teams for marginal players. Hopefully a sign of a healthier sport at the global level.

      • Gaby is the pretty much the kind of guy Japan seems to go for: A player that has had some success in the MLB and who is reasonably cheap, and still young enough, and who has some power. They can get a guy who will probably hit .260-.270 and 20 HR for 2.5 mil.

      • Lee Foo Young
        January 8, 2015 10:06 am

        I always liked Gaby, unlike a lot of Pirate Sports fans.

        • I like Gaby too. I always thought he was a good influence on the younger Hispanic players and I enjoyed watching him translate for the younger players while they were being interviewed. I believe that he will be missed.

          • I really like Gaby – he’s very good in certain situations. I don’t always love the way Hurdle uses his bench, however. Far too often I can reliably predict a Pirates’ bench player grounding into a double play or striking out based on a pitching matchup.