Should the Padres consider trading Ha-Seong Kim?

Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: USA Today Sports

The San Diego Padres need help with their roster, and trading Ha-Seong Kim could be the answer. 

This winter has not exactly been positive if you are a fan of the San Diego Padres.

Peter Seidler’s death is a massive blow to the franchise. His loss will be felt in San Diego for years to come. On the field. The team has also suffered as Juan Soto was dealt to the New York Yankees. Nick Martinez, Michael Wacha, and Seth Lugo signed free-agent deals elsewhere, and rumors are that Blake Snell and Josh Hader will soon follow them out of town.

The roster for the 2024 season will surely be much different than last year. There will be changes. Changes needed to be made.

With current roster construction, the Padres have around $50-55 million to spend to get around the $200 million mark for their entire roster.

There is no doubt the club will spend this winter. The issue is that the team needs arguably two more starting pitchers, two more outfielders, and a proven reliever to likely serve as the team’s closer. That is a lot of rostered players for the budget. Something will have to give.

In the last few seasons, Ha-Seong Kim has become a true fan favorite.

His style of play is contagious, and the respect Kim shows for the fans and the game of baseball endears him to all who watch him play.

Ha-Seong Kim is in the last year of his initial contract in the majors. He will be paid $8 million for the 2024 season, and then there is an option for 2025 that is a mutual option for $1 million. Kim will not accept that option and will explore free agency at the age of 29. The Korean infielder will be paid handsomely.

So, if you are the Padres- do you trade Kim knowing that his value is high right now?

Or do you extend the infielder and make him a fixture in the lineup for years to come?

Let’s explore the topic.

 

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Yes, maximize his value and get a decent return now

In the last year, before Kim hits free agency, he still possesses value. There are some holes in his offensive game, and it is possible that last year was the best we will see from the infielder with the bat. His defense will always be positive, but his future price tag dictates that he must also produce offensively. There is some risk here.

Kim has a lot of value, even though a trading team will view him as a rental. His defensive flexibility is useful. The Padres should obtain some pitching help for the infielder and save the $8 million that Kim is owed for the 2024 season, plus the $2 million buyout after the coming season. A total of $10 million can be used on other parts of the roster. Re-signing Kim after the 2024 season seems like a long shot, as he will command upwards of $100 million on the open market. They simply cannot take on another contract like that with the present roster.

 

Mandatory Credit: Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports

No, you build around him for the future

It does not matter that he is a free agent at the end of the year. You simply re-sign or extend him as Ha-Seong Kim represents the heart and soul of the team. Manny Machado loves him and would not be happy if he were traded. Baseball is a business, but chemistry has a lot to do with wins and losses on the baseball field. The Padres simply need all the chemistry they can get. They also need scrappy ball players to go with the star power, and Kim certainly represents that to the Padres.

An extension will be costly, but if the Padres can move Jake Cronenworth, then it is not out of the question. Kim will be 28 this coming season and will be playing at a high level for the next several seasons. You can plug him into multiple positions, and the Padres might be seeing the tip of the iceberg as far as his offensive production. Kim made huge strides in 2023 from previous seasons, and the thought is that he will continue to adjust and get better. In a trade, you would only get a fraction of his true worth.

 

The verdict

At this point, the team would need to be blown away to deal Ha-Seong Kim. It is not out of the realm of possibilities, given the problems the major league roster has with construction. A trade of the Korean infielder would net the Padres, several players who could potentially help in the 2024 season. It makes sense on a business level as the team seems intent on keeping their higher-level prospects this time.

As the winter progresses, we may get a better idea of roster construction. It appears the Padres are going to stand pat and wait until the market slows down. They will surely find some bargains if they wait long enough. But, in doing this, they may not get perfect fits for the roster. Just players who are undervalued. If this happens, look for the Padres to explore dealing Kim for players who better suit their needs for the coming season. This is still an important year for A.J. Preller and the Padres. Despite the national media’s narrative, the Padres are still built to win now.

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