The Blue Jays have interest in KBO free agent Ha-Seong Kim, with the hole at third it may make sense to bring the 25 year old slugger in.
Who is Ha-Seong Kim?
If you tuned in to any of the KBO baseball being shown in North America during the MLB shut down, the name Ha-Seong Kim should sound familiar to you. Kim terrorized the KBO last year, posting an excellent slash line of .306/.397/.523 with 30 home runs, 109 RBI’s and 23 stolen bases as well. Kim also walked more than he struck out last year, showing how disciplined of a hitter he is. He was posted by his KBO club Kiwoom on Wednesday, and at just 25 years old, he is the youngest impact free agent on the market, so he’ll garner interest from a lot of teams. One of these teams should be the Blue Jays.
How Kim Fits With The Jays
Kim would fit like a glove with this year’s Blue Jays team, as he is a natural shortstop and has mainly played there during his time in Korea, but projects as a third baseman in North America. This is a perfect fit for the Jays, as third base is a huge need for them. Even though they still technically have Travis Shaw under contract, he’ll likely be non-tendered next week after a disappointing 2020 season at the dish, leaving a huge hole at third that will need to be addressed via free agency or trade. That’s where Kim could come in.
Fan Graphs projects his 2021 slash line to be .274/.343/.477 with 23 home runs, 82 RBI’s and 17 stolen bases. If these projections hold up, then Kim would be another quality bat in an already dangerous lineup. Kim would also provide an element of speed, which is something the Jays do not have a lot of right now, so that part of his game would be a really nice addition to this team.
The Jays also love versatility in players, so being able to play short, third and second will be a huge plus for Kim in the eyes of the Jays front office. Kim’s age would also line up perfectly with the rest of the Jays young core, as at 25 years old he’s younger than both Lourdes Gurriel Jr.and Cavan Biggio, so he’ll be on the same development path as the rest of the Blue Jays young core. Along with being a great fit positionally and age wise, Kim shouldn’t break the bank either. MLB Trade Rumors projects him to sign a 5-year, 40 million dollar deal with a 7.625 million dollar posting fee to Kiwoom. Bringing Kim in at this price would be excellent as they would be getting a young, talented player with a ton of upside and it would still leave the Jays lots of room financially to pursue more established players on both the free agent and trade market.
Some Potential Problems
Though Kim has been a great player throughout his time in the KBO and is projected to transition smoothly to the MLB, there is some cause for concern for signing him and some potential issues the Jays might run into if they decide to bring him in. First off is his on-field performance, as he was no doubt a great player in Korea, but we’ve seen countless players come to North America with high expectations and not pan out, such as Diasuke Matsuzaka or Kei Igawa.
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There’s a real shot that Kim could become one of these players and leave the Jays paying him for five years to be nothing more than a 4a player. Another potential problem is that the Jays have some highly touted infield prospects that are probably a year or so away from the bigs in Austin Martin and Jordan Groshans. They both could potentially be long-term answers for the club at third base, so bringing in Kim could potentially block these players from the big leagues. Now I’m of the mind set that you don’t let young, promising players stop you from getting great players, so if the Jays feel like Kim is the real deal, they should definitely go out and sign him and figure out what to do with Martin and Groshans later. However, if the Jays don’t see Kim as an everyday third baseman, they might be better off steering clear and looking for a more established player who would be willing to take a short-term deal and be a bridge guy for Martin or Groshans.
Ha-Seong Kim is a talented player who’s fits in perfectly with this team’s young core, however there is a lot of risk bringing him in, as players from overseas are hard to project. With the contract he’s going to get, I think it would be a better idea to bring in a more established player on a short-term deal, like Justin Turner, or Kolten Wong to bridge the gap until guys like Martin or Groshans are ready.