Ha-Seong Kim has become a fan favorite in San Diego—not just because he hustles and is appreciates the fans but because he’s continued to get better each and every year. The 28-year-old posted career highs in home runs, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage and OPS in 2023.
However, the Padres only have Kim for one more season. Remember who else was under contract for one more year? Juan Soto. And plenty of people thought trading him was the right thing to do so that San Diego could build more of a complete roster.
Isn’t this the same with Kim? Sure, he’s not making $30+ million in 2024. He’s making $7 million. But Kim’s friend, Jung-hoo Lee, just signed a six-year contract worth $113 million with the San Francisco Giants despite not playing a single game in the big leagues.
So what is Kim going to get next offseason? $150 million? $177 million like Dansby Swanson got from the Chicago Cubs? The Padres aren’t bringing Kim back for that much.
It would be one thing if Jake Cronenworth wasn’t signed to a 7-year contract that hasn’t even started yet. But he is and it’s doubtful another team takes that contract.
It would be one thing if Xander Bogaerts wasn’t signed to an 11-year, $280 million contract that still has ten years left on it. But he is.
It would be one thing if Padres #2 prospect Jackson Merrill wasn’t almost ready to come up. But he is and when he comes up he needs to play, not sit on the bench wasting his service time.
This is just the reality.
It might be a good idea for the Padres to free up first base and move Cronenworth back to second—where he’s most valuable and best set up to succeed—since he’s here long term.
Kim is at his highest value so why not get the most back for him that you can? He’s one of the best defensive infielders in all of baseball and can hit almost anywhere in your lineup. Oh, and the best ability is availability. Kim checks that box—playing 150 games in each of the last two seasons.
That’s certainly appealing to other teams that have pitching. The reasons to trade him (if the right return is offered) aren’t knocks on Kim. It’s more about San Diego having players who can play middle infield and Kim is the lone infielder who isn’t a Padre long term.
Should we want Kim on the Padres? Of course—just like Soto. But other parts of the roster need help and other position players aren’t going to be as bad as they were last year.
A.J. Preller gets paid to think unemotionally. If the right return is there, pull the trigger.