Korean shortstop Ha-Seong Kim will be one of this winter’s hottest free agents, if such a thing even exists in MLB’s current climate, and he should hit the market around the end of the month. Kiwoom Heroes GM Chi-Hyun Kim told reporters on Friday that he expects the 25-year-old to be posted shortly after Thanksgiving, well ahead of the December 14 posting deadline.
— Daniel Kim 대니얼 김 (@DanielKimW) November 13, 2020
Several teams figure to be in on Kim, whose hit tool and plate approach appear to be more than capable of carrying him across the talent gap from KBO to MLB. He has walked more than he’s struck out over the past two seasons, plus he’s got a little pop. Kim also possessed plus speed and possibly a plus-plus arm, opening up the possibility that he could move around the infield and even occupy an outfield spot if necessary.
Though there’s more value in keeping him at short if his defensive skill merits it, Kim has played a lot of third base and was at the hot corner quite a bit after the Heroes acquired Addison Russell. Man, I still can’t get over the irony of that pickup. Should Kim come in at the lower end of his salary projection, the Cubs can and should make a play for him. He’s got the kind of contact bat they absolutely need and his versatility is something they often target in acquisitions.
The trouble is that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer aren’t going to have much money to spend and could be priced out if Kim commands close to the five-year, $40 million deal predicted by MLB Trade Rumors. But if he’s closer to the $20 million mark set by ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, failing to pursue him would be a tremendous mistake. Yes, even as loaded as the Cubs are at the spots Kim figures to play.
I fully expect him to end up elsewhere, either because the Cubs can’t/won’t pay enough or because another team offers him a better fit. That could be a matter of geography or having a clear need at shortstop, or it could just be that he hits it off better with a particular front office. Whatever the case, Kim’s free agency will be an interesting storyline to follow this winter.