With the Padres looking to cut payroll, who could the Blue Jays target in a trade?

Pittsburgh Pirates v San Diego Padres
Pittsburgh Pirates v San Diego Padres / Orlando Ramirez/GettyImages

If it wasn't already apparent before trading Juan Soto, the San Diego Padres appear to be sellers. The team went "all in" over the past couple of seasons, handing out massive contract after massive contract, but they've switched course this offseason and are trying to clean up their payroll. This has led to lots of trade rumors surrounding their best players, and one name that could be of interest to the Blue Jays is infielder Ha-Seong Kim.

When Kim came over to MLB from the KBO in 2021, the Blue Jays were actually one of the teams who showed interest, but he ended up signing a four-year, $28M contract with the Padres. That deal has ended up looking like a steal, with Kim having turned into a really solid player over the last couple of seasons. 2023 in particular was where he really broke out, posting a 110 OPS+ and 40 extra-base hits across 152 games, while his 5.8 rWAR ranked 11th in all of MLB. He would go on to win the NL Gold Glove Award for utility players and finish 14th in MVP voting. Despite all of that, he appears to be a potential trade candidate.

Dennis Lin of The Athletic ($) recently reported that the Padres are looking to get their payroll under $200 million, and mentioned that Kim could be traded to help with that. Although he's on a team-friendly deal at the moment, he'll hit the open market following the 2024 season and should be getting himself a big contract, barring a disastrous meltdown during the upcoming campaign.

This is where the Blue Jays come in. With Matt Chapman still a free agent, both second and third base are sort of up for grabs, and those are two positions Kim plays very well. He spent the majority of last year at second, but also spent time at third and shortstop, putting up great defensive numbers wherever he lined up. His dWAR of 2.1 ranked 13th in the league this past season, and he ranked in the 96th percentile in OAA per baseball savant after ranking in the 94th percentile the year prior. Not only would he help solidify the Blue Jays' infield defense, but he's also proven to be a reliable offensive player over the past couple of seasons. He doesn't have much power in his bat, with just 36 home runs in 419 career matches, but he's got a good eye, ranking 21st in walk rate last season, and posting whiff and chase rates above the 90th percentile. He also took advantage of the new bases last season, swiping 38 bags on 47 attempts, 12 more than any Blue Jay.

If the Blue Jays were to trade from Kim, he would be a one year rental while they figure out the long-term future of their infield, but that doesn't mean he would come cheap. There hasn't been much reporting about what exactly the price tag for Kim might be, but with the Padres in the market for pitching it seems likely that they would looking for a close to MLB ready pitchers bundled with another prospect of two.

An MLB-ready infielder like Santiago Espinal may have to go the other way in the deal, but if the Jays really wanted Kim, they certainly have the resources to go get him. He might not be a superstar, but Ha-Seong Kim could drastically improve the team's infield defense, provide a solid bat, and be a serios threat on the bases.