The Pittsburgh Pirates had an interesting trade deadline.
On July 31, the Pirates were 52-51 and sitting four games out of the second Wild Card spot.
Nonetheless, the team decided to buy and sell, dealing closer Mark Melancon to the Nationals on July 30 in exchange for another Major League arm, Felipe Rivero. The team also picked up Antonio Bastardo and Ivan Nova on deadline day two days later.
When the Pirates made the Melancon trade, it appeared to make sense on paper.
The Pirates felt that they had other comparable options to handle the 9th inning role. In their minds, it was also advantageous to deal Melancon when he was a rental and would hit free agency at the end of the season, meaning that he would only be with them for another three months anyway.
So that's exactly what they did. The Pirates turned the right-hander into Felipe Rivero, a hard-throwing lefty that could be an immediate impact in the bullpen right after making the trade.
Rivero came with other pluses too. He is not a free agent until after the 2021 season and is much cheaper salary-wise than Melancon.
Taylor Hearn, a prospect, also came over in the deal, giving the Pirates some future value that they will be able to develop.
It's been a month since the Pirates made the trade with the Nationals, and their bullpen has not seen a significant drop off.
Since Aug. 1, the Pirates' bullpen has posted a 2.24 ERA in 76 1/3 innings pitched. This ranks second in the Majors, second only to the surging Royals.
FIP (3.78) and xFIP (3.74), however, suggest that the Pirates' bullpen has outperformed their abilities. This has led to an fWAR of 0.3, which is tied for 21st in the Majors in that stretch (coincidence or not, this ties them with the Nationals).
Closing games for the Pirates since the trade has been Tony Watson, who is 10-for-11 in saves this season. He has a 2.31 ERA and a nine-to-five strikeout-to-walk ratio over 11 2/3 innings pitched in that time. Though the peripherals suggest otherwise, he has, from the eye-test, done his job with Pittsburgh.
Rivero, too, has been great since the trade. In 15 games with the Pirates coming into Monday, he has posted a 0.64 ERA and a 22-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 14 innings pitched. According to FanGraphs, he has been worth 0.1 fWAR.
Melancon, though, has been even better.
The freshly-minted Nationals' closer has a 0.77 ERA and has saved all six of his attempts, begging the question, did the Pirates make the right call in trading him?
At this moment in time, it looks like a yes. As long as their bullpen continues to exceed their peripherals, the Pirates appear to have made the correct decision to deal Melancon, who was not going to be a long-term piece in their bullpen.
This is a strategy that other small market teams in contention should pursue. When a team has a veteran player that they will not be able to keep in free agency at the end of the season, trading them for other Major League talent could be one possible solution.
Obviously, with the qualifying offer system in place, as it is now, this does not need to be done with all impending free agents. Rather, this works for players who will not warrant a qualifying offer but could still provide value in the form of a trade return.
Melancon was great for the Pirates, and he would have been an important piece to carry them to the postseason. But trading him may end up leading to more good than harm going forward.
We are five weeks away from actual baseball. While Spring Training games still haven't started, it is time for my second divisional preview, this time focusing on the National League Central. (I did the NL East last Saturday, so check that out too.) This division is a competitive one, with three teams bunched closely at the top.
1. Chicago Cubs -- 2015 Record: 97-65; 2016 Projection: 100-62
The Cubs took the third-best team in baseball and made it even better this offseason. The team went 97-65 last season, and though they finished third in this very division, the team raced through the playoffs before being eliminated by the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series. The Cubs just did not have the deep rotation they needed to outlast the Mets and that showed. The Cubs were swept.
Naturally, the first thing the Cubs did this offseason was add John Lackey, an established veteran starter and at a pretty good rate too. Lackey, now 37, cannot be expected to repeat his great 2015 (2.77 ERA in 218 IP), but still should be more than capable as the third best starter in the Cubs' rotation, behind reigning NL Cy Young Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester.
The Cubs also added Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist this offseason, as well as re-upping Dexter Fowler's contract, giving them an absolutely stacked lineup. I knew Chicago had a good lineup, but after looking at it again, I'm astonished at the actual result. It includes: Heyward, Zobrist, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Fowler, Miguel Montero, and Addison Russell. This team is built to steamroll everyone else.
2. St. Louis Cardinals -- 2015 Record: 100-62; Projection: 94-68
The Cardinals were the best team in baseball last season, and they became the first team to win 100 games since the 2011 Phillies won 102. Their offseason was more about subtraction than addition, and in such a competitive NL Central division, they will be a bit worse in 2016 as compared to their unstoppable 2015 squad. It's still hard to pick against a team that has made the postseason five years in a row and 12 times since 2000, so I have them taking a Wild Card spot in the National League.
This offseason, the Cardinals did add three underrated pieces: Mike Leake, Jedd Gyorko, and Seung-hwan Oh (otherwise known as "The Final Boss" in Korea). The Cards took a hit with the losses of Jason Heyward and John Lackey to their division-rival Cubs. Their pitching staff should still be one of the best, though, as Adam Wainwright will be completely healthy, and the addition of Leake makes him their No. 4 starter, flashing the amount of depth they have there. The bullpen should be anchored by Trevor Rosenthal, Oh, and others. The Cardinals' pitching staff, as always, is great.
As for their lineup, the loss of Heyward hurts. The "oomph" in the middle of the order has to be picked up by Jhonny Peralta, who posted just a 102 OPS+ in 2015. Matt Adams also becomes completely healthy in 2016, but as a whole, the lineup may have some weaknesses. They are going to need increased production from young players like Randal Grichuk (who was great last year), Kolten Wong, and Stephen Piscotty to make up for the loss of Heyward.
Overall, the Cardinals will need to win a lot of games 4-3 or 3-2 if they want to remain competitive. Knowing the Cardinals, that will probably happen, as they find themselves in a bullfight with the Pittsburgh Pirates for second in the National League Central.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates -- 2015 Record: 98-64; Projection: 93-69
The Pirates have made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, and it almost appears that the fans in Pittsburgh have completely forgotten the two decades of terrible to mediocre (at best) Pirates teams. The National League is very top heavy, so it may be tough for the Pirates to beat out other likely Wild Card contenders, like the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Giants, Dodgers, Mets, or Nationals. They did win 98 games last year, and most of their team is returning in 2016, so there's no reason to believe that this year will be any sort of regression for the team, even if they do miss the playoffs.
The biggest losses for the Pirates come in the likes of J.A. Happ, Aramis Ramirez, and Neil Walker. The biggest of those three is Walker, who the Pirates traded to the Mets for Jon Niese. Projected to replace him is prospect Alen Hanson until Jung-ho Kang returns from injury. As a whole, the lineup is still centered around five-time All-Star Andrew McCutchen, but needs increased production from Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco to have any chance of catching the Cubs.
The biggest question mark for the Pirates is the rotation, which is solidified with Ryan Vogelsong and the aforementioned Niese. I'd be even more worried if the Pirates did not have Ray Searage, who is probably the best at fixing up pitchers and giving the team value in ways that other teams just don't have. The rotation, led by budding ace Gerrit Cole may have the biggest upside for the team just because of Searage. In general, the Pirates will still win 90 games, but a few things have to go their way in order for them to eclipse the 95 mark like they did last season.
4. Cincinnati Reds -- 2015 Record: 64-98; Projection: 65-97
The Reds finally began to embrace a rebuild over the summer, trading Johnny Cueto to the Royals. This narrative continued over the offseason, dealing star closer Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees and third baseman Todd Frazier to the White Sox. Perhaps the only exciting part of the 2015 Reds was the return of Joey Votto's dominance. After a 2014 where he only played in 60 games, Votto had the best OPS+ of his career (min. 500 at bats), posting an even 1.000 OPS, good for a 174 OPS+. Votto finished only behind Bryce Harper and Paul Goldschmidt in the NL MVP voting.
Besides Votto, there's not much to like about the 2016 Reds. Their biggest additions this offseason were all prospects, coming in the form of Jose Peraza, Eric Jagielo, and Rookie Davis. Cincinnati's minor league system may actually be more fun for fans to watch than their Major League club. Besides those three, Tyler Stephenson, Jesse Winkler, Cody Reed, and may others give the Reds a promising future.
The Reds could end up even worse in 2016 than projected if they decide to complete their teardown, which may mean dealing outfielder Jay Bruce and catcher Devin Mesoraco. Other than that, the 2016 Reds season is all about the development of their top prospects and the possibility that they begin to make their way up to the Majors, meaning that they will suffer in the win column.
5. Milwaukee Brewers -- 2015 Record: 68-94; Projection: 64-98
Like the Reds, the Brewers are in the midst of a rebuilding phase. They are under new leadership in the front office, hiring David Stearns to be their general manager last September. Stearns took the rebuild to heart this offseason, getting rid of any players that carried legitimate value. First baseman Adam Lind, outfielder Khris Davis, closer Francisco Rodriguez, and infielder Jean Segura are all in new homes.
Again like the Reds, the Brewers still have a couple big names on their roster, in catcher Jonathan Lucroy and outfielder Ryan Braun. Lucroy in particular would net the Brewers a large return, but it appears that the team is waiting until his value is a little higher before pulling the trigger, if they decide to do at all. I liked Stearns' additions of Chris Carter, Will Middlebrooks, Garin Cecchini, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis this offseason; they are all guys that could prove valuable for future Brewers teams or could be trade deadline pieces. All of them serve a purpose, and I don't think it's just to "eat" at bats in 2016.
As for their pitching, I'm interested in Jimmy Nelson, who had a fairly solid rookie season last year, worth 2.1 fWAR. He struggled against left-handers, but with experience, may be able to turn into a fairly solid pitcher. For Brewers fans, though, this season is all about seeing prospect growth and hoping they'll be ready to contend in 2017 or 2018.
Next up: NL West.
Using Baseball Prospectus' playoff odds, you should be able to tell who has the best chance of doing just that. Teams really should take those odds to determine whether they should be buyers and sellers because more often than not, they are right.
After games being played on July 6 last year, five of the ten eventual postseason teams had a 80 percent chance of making the playoffs or better. Every team that did have an 80 percent or greater chance of making the playoffs on this date last year did.
The team with the highest percent chance to make the playoffs on July 6 that ultimately didn't was the Milwaukee Brewers, who had a 71 percent chance to punch their ticket, but collapsed down the stretch and failed to make it.
Only three (Orioles, Royals, and Pirates) had less than a 50 percent chance of making the playoffs following action on July 6. By July 31, the Orioles were up to a 71 percent chance, the Royals were at a 17 percent chance, and the Pirates were at a 46 percent chance.
Knowing this, I will use Baseball Prospectus' current postseason predictions to determine who should buy and who should sell at the 2015 Trade Deadline.
All In (85% or greater)
St. Louis Cardinals (99.3%)
There's no reason why the Cardinals, who own MLB's best record at 54-28, should consider selling. In fact, Baseball Prospectus says that they have a 99.3 percent chance of making the playoffs, leaving just a very small chance for an extreme collapse. If the Cardinals play just .500 ball the rest of the way, that would put them on pace for 94 wins, which would definitely put them in prime position to punch their ticket to the postseason. The Cardinals have no reason to do anything but buy.
Los Angeles Dodgers (92.9%)
The Dodgers have the second-highest playoff percentage in the league, and nothing suggests that this team won't buy at the trade deadline. I predicted them to go out and get Johnny Cueto, perhaps the best pitcher available not named Cole Hamels. The Dodgers are always willing to spend money and prospects to make their team better and can easily justify doing so at the deadline.
Washington Nationals (85.6%)
The Nationals have arguably not played their best baseball yet, but still have an 85.6 percent chance to make the playoffs. They could use some reinforcements in their bullpen, but most of the additions the Nationals will be getting will be players coming back from injury, such as Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, and Stephen Strasburg. They may not need to make a ton of moves in July, but if they do, they have good reason to do so.
Houston Astros (84.7%)
The Astros have already shown interest in some of the top pitchers that will be available, and Baseball Prospectus' playoff odds completely backs that up. Houston's playoff percentage, at 84.7 percent, is so close to 85 percent that I had to shove them into this category. The Astros have showed that while they are a bit of a surprise, they still can win ballgames and do it over a period of time. The Astros by no means are "pretenders," as they have been able to hold a comfortable AL West lead since late April.
Should be buyers (70-85%)
Pittsburgh Pirates (81.3%), Chicago Cubs (73.1%)
The Pirates and Cubs have a case of some serious bad luck. They are playing in the National League's toughest division and would be either leading or close to leading any other division in the league. The only reason I'm wary of either of these teams buying at the deadline is because they are not division leaders and have more of a chance to collapse and fall out of the playoff race altogether. Unless they believe they have a real shot at the Cardinals (which it appears they don't), they shouldn't completely unload their farm systems to go out and get the best guy on the market.
Kansas City Royals (75.3%)
Of the three teams in this category, I am most comfortable with the Royals buying at the trade deadline due to the fact that they lead their division by a comfortable margin and need just one or two pieces to really put the pressure on the rest of the division. All signs point to the Royals making the playoffs again this year, so I would go ahead and pencil them in as buyers at the deadline.
Los Angeles Angels (64.8%)
The Angels are in a good position right now. They are playing good baseball and have shown the need for an upgrade in left field. Of the teams listed in this section, I truly believe they are the best and most complete team, so therefore they should be buyers at the deadline. The Angels could use some rotation help as well, but if they patch up a few spots, they will get into the postseason. My verdict? They should be buyers.
AL East: New York Yankees (59.4%), Toronto Blue Jays (39.6%), Tampa Bay Rays (34.9%)
The American League East division is lumped together because the division is so muddled and close that really anyone could win it. Baseball Prospectus' simulations give the Yankees the best chance to go to the playoffs out of that division, but with some rotation help, the Blue Jays are the division's best team. The Yankees and Rays should stand pat or make small moves at the deadline, while the Blue Jays should go out and make a splash for a rotation piece.
Detroit Tigers (36.7%)
With Miguel Cabrera being sidelined with his hamstring injury, I'm going to pencil the Tigers in as should be sellers, but as this team continues to try and make a run once again, they will find themselves trying to buy. The Tigers are heading towards a Phillies-esque fall, and if they don't realize that soon, it could only get worse if they decide to buy at the trade deadline in hopes for one last run at the World Series.
Maybe/Stand Pat (20-30%)
New York Mets (28.9%)
Even if the Mets added an offensive piece, I don't think that would be enough to get them to the playoffs this season. With that said, however, I could see them dealing for a guy with more than one season of control, as their young and talented pitching staff comes into their own. The Mets couldn't justify buying for a rental player, but a guy who is at least signed through 2016 could make sense.
Baltimore Orioles (28.7%)
The Baltimore Orioles have a ton of free agents at the end of the season that they probably should move. The Orioles could be one of those teams that tries to get 25-man roster guys with more years of team control in return. The Orioles could be a team that buys and sells at the trade deadline, and I would be fine with that.
San Francisco Giants (22.9%)
It's an odd year. The Giants aren't good enough to win the NL West, and considering that they have to deal with the Cubs and Pirates for the Wild Card, it will be tough for them to really make a run into the postseason. However, they still have a good core group of guys and the team has proved me wrong before. They probably should stand pat.
Shouldn't buy (Less than 20%)
Minnesota Twins (18.2%)
The Twins just aren't that good. Sure, they had a good run earlier this season, but all the numbers suggest that they were going to fall out of first in the AL Central. The Twins should really try and go for 2016, when some of their rookies will be more polished.
Texas Rangers (15.0%)
While the Rangers shouldn't buy, they probably will, as I consider them to be in a similar boat as the Tigers are in. The Rangers could legitimately contend, but they would more than a couple of upgrades, to the point where they probably shouldn't go for it this season.
Cleveland Indians (13.5%)
The Indians were a popular postseason pick prior to this season, but Baseball Prospectus' simulations show that they would need some serious luck to actually get there. The Indians shouldn't sell any pieces other than the impending free agents because my gut says that they will be back in the postseason sooner than later.
Boston Red Sox (11.8%)
The Red Sox are in a tough position right now. It might not be time for a fire sale quite yet, but it's definitely not time to go out and try and contend this season.
Seattle Mariners (7.0%)
The Mariners have had some issues staying in the race this season, and while they shouldn't sell off their entire team, they really shouldn't be buyers either.
Oakland Athletics (6.8%)
The Athletics are already shopping their pieces and it looks like they will be sellers.
Arizona Diamondbacks (6.4%)
The Diamondbacks are a team that should stand pat. They still have pieces to contend in the near future and as their pitching improves with guys coming back from injury, they could be a legitimate contender coming 2016.
Atlanta Braves (3.8%)
The Braves, especially in the offseason, have committed to becoming a selling team. They don't have any exciting pieces, but even though they have kind of surprised, they should by no means buy.
Chicago White Sox (3.2%)
The White Sox are in a tough position. They reportedly won't have a fire sale, which makes sense considering how much money they spent in free agency, but they need to get rid of Jeff Samardzija and still be planning to try again in 2016.
San Diego Padres (2.7%)
The Padres could buy at the deadline, but in all reality, they shouldn't. They've got some important games coming up that they need to win if people start seriously seeing them as contenders. Once again, they are proving that the winners of the offseason don't necessarily win during the season.
Miami Marlins (1.6%)
The Marlins shouldn't go into a fire sale, but Mat Latos, Dan Haren, Brad Hand, and other free agents at the end of the season should be gone.
Cincinnati Reds (1.1%)
The Reds have Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and possibly Aroldis Chapman available, and while they won't sell until after they host the All-Star Game, I expect it to come, as it should.
Colorado Rockies (0.2%)
I'd pull the trigger and deal Troy Tulowitzki. It's time for a real change in Colorado if they want to be relevant down the road.
Milwaukee Brewers (0.2%)
The Brewers should enter into a fire sale.
Philadelphia Phillies (0.0%)
Now, these rankings and categories don't mean that each of these teams will do as I advise. Their postseason percentages could change and perhaps an addition is all they need to do that. However, Baseball Prospectus' odds are very accurate and should not be taken lightly. Teams really should use them to determine whether they could justify buying at the deadline.
Over the past five days or so, many teams have been focused on locking up their players with little service time, in hopes that they would buy out their pre-arbitration and arbitration seasons, while also gaining control of some of their free agent years.
Rick Porcello, Josh Harrison, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Yordano Ventura were recently extended by their respective teams. Here are my thoughts on each deal.
The Red Sox overpaid Rick Porcello
Since 2007, there have been 52 years of contract extensions given out to 14 starting pitchers between five and six years of MLB service time, worth $826.1 million. That's an average of a 3.7 year deal for $15.89 million per year, which would buy out two free agent years. Porcello got a four-year, $82.5 million deal from the Red Sox, which would come out to a $20.625 million annual average value. Porcello is not worth $20.625 million per season. If he made that figure this year, he would be the 23rd-highest paid player in the Majors, ahead of Adam Wainwright, Jon Lester, David Price, and Max Scherzer. I rest my case.
Josh Harrison still hasn't proved himself...though that doesn't mean that deal with Pirates is spoiled
The Pirates signed Harrison to a four-year, $27.3 million deal. Harrison still hasn't proved to me that he can be a viable option in the lineup at the same level as he did in 2014. Regardless, this doesn't mean that he signed a bad deal. If and only if Harrison hits well again does this deal become a real steal for Pittsburgh. Harrison makes at most $10.25 million before becoming a free agent barring options. If he continued to play at the same level he did last season, he would easily make more than that as a third-year arbitration player. It all depends on how he continues to play.
Corey Kluber's deal is fantastic for both sides
Corey Kluber had pitched in 15 career big league games coming into the 2013 season, boasting a 5.35 ERA. Coming into that 2013 season, Kluber was a 27-year-old, practically career minor leaguer, pitcher with not many expectations. Since, he has captured an AL Cy Young award and has established himself amongst the best in the business. I personally like Kluber's deal for both sides, due to the fact that it is only guaranteed $38.5 million, but with escalators can go to $77 million. It's great security for him, especially since he's only had a good couple of years (even though he appears here to stay dominant), but could also be a very good deal compensation-wise, especially if the escalators are met. This deal is good for Cleveland as well; they're locking up one of the best pitchers in baseball for years to come.
The Indians took a calculated risk with Carlos Carrasco
Like his rotation counterpart, Carrasco is a late-bloomer, not really taking shape as a solid pitcher until the last 10 starts of last season. Granted, he went 5-3 with a 1.30 ERA and a 78 to 11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 69 2/3 innings. Carrasco's career has had a ton of ups and downs, including a designation for assignment in 2013. With a four-year, $22 million pact, obviously the Indians hope that Carrasco is the one that looked brilliant at the end of last year. If he does continue his successes, this deal will be considered a huge win for them. If he doesn't, the Indians will just have to eat the cash, which never exceeds $8 million per season. Carrasco's deal only buys out his arbitration years with options to control his free agent years. It's a good sum for a pitcher who had a career 5.29 ERA coming into 2015, but could also be a good deal for a team looking to stay in contention for many years to come.
Yordano Ventura's deal is an absolute steal for the Royals
The Kansas City Royals locked up one of the best young pitchers in baseball for all of his pre-arbitration and arbitration years, none for an overly extravagant price. With his new five-year, $23 million pact, Ventura makes just $9.95 million as a projected third-year arbitration player, when he could continue to make much more than that if he continues to improve. Ventura will make a guaranteed figure just over what Carlos Carrasco made. I'm sure most of you would agree; I'd rather have Ventura on my squad than Carrasco. (If I could only have one, of course.) Sure, Ventura gets some security if 2014 somehow is a fluke, but overall this looks like a huge win for Kansas City.
Has the next international phenom arrived to play in the Major Leagues?
People are asking themselves that when reading about Jung-Ho Kang, the newest member of a list of international baseball prospects that seemingly gets longer by the day. And now that the Pirates have made the winning bid on the shortstop, I am wondering if he can really make the transition to the MLB, and what they can expect from him as their shortstop into the future.
After doing some minimal research before the Pirates had reportedly won the bidding, I found one common theme amongst all scouting reports. That one common theme was that people were skeptical of Kang's power and how it will translate to the big leagues.
It's not just his power that makes scouts skeptical. Kang's inability to make routine plays has scouts worried the most. His arm is decent, and at roughly six foot and 210 pounds, he isn't too big to play the position. He might just not be able to handle the Major League plays of a shortstop.
As an MLB scout put it, "Kang has a functional arm at shortstop, but he may be better suited at third base or right field. He doesn't have enough range to play shortstop and I don't think he has the glove to play third base. He may be able to play right field, but that position will require better offensive production."
Kang does not appear to be too terrible out at shortstop, but moving him to third base would put Josh Harrison out of a job for the Pirates. Right field? Gregory Polanco. Left? Starling Marte. Second base? Neil Walker. Kang's future in Pittsburgh would be at shortstop, where he needs to handle himself in the field. And nobody knows if he can.
I know I haven't been too optimistic, but one other reason to worry about Kang's defense is that he spent most of his time in the KBO playing on a turf field. Other Korean ballplayers who tried to make the transition to the MLB had serious issues playing defense on a grass field. While grass is easier on the body, especially the legs and knees, the bounces are different and it can be harder to field your position, especially for an infielder. That is not promising for Kang.
However, the Pirates are one of the best teams with scouting reports and defensive positioning. They could move Kang specifically based off splits and where a hitter is likely to hit a ball, possibly making it easier on him in his transition to the Major Leagues.
Kang hit 40 homers last season and posted a 1.198 OPS last season with the Nexen Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization. There is just one other Korean-born player to play in both the MLB and KBO, and that is Hee-Seop Choi, who's OPS increased by 15.8 percent the season after leaving the MLB for the KBO. While 15.8 percent seems low based on what I have heard, it goes to show that the KBO is a real hitter-friendly league.
Eric Thames slugged at a similar rate to Kang in the KBO after retiring from the MLB. In the Major Leagues, he posted a 96 wRC+, suggesting that he was 4 percent worse than the average player at creating runs, adjusted based on park factors. Thames was worth a -0.1 fWAR in the big leagues, mostly because he could not play average defense.
Kang won't be too costly for the Pirates, as he will "only" cost them $5-6 million per year on a multi-year contract. But if he can even partly reach his potential or numbers from the KBO, he will be a valuable piece for them. Kang is young, as he is only 27, and could be their starting shortstop for years to come.
Every signing a team makes is risky, but the fact that Kang is a complete unknown makes it even more risky. The upside and potential is definitely there, and pretty soon, the Pirates will be negotiating with the best player in all of the KBO. That is a risk they are willing to take. And if Kang works out, they have a steal. If he doesn't, he could be just an expensive utility man or even just a little dead money.
But as the Pirates attempt to go for the World Series crown, expectations for Jung-Ho Kang are thrown out the window. They understand that he's a risk, perhaps a costly one for years to come, but in the MLB you need to take risks in order to win, and that is enough to justify this move for the Pirates.
Now let's see what Jung-Ho Kang can do.