Kim Ha-sung (29) of the San Diego Padres has clear value to utilize. In particular, he is evaluated as a “luxury” in defense. As he has one year left to qualify as a free agent, there is a lot of possibility for trade, but local people’s views on this are clearly divided.
Dennis Lin of The Athletic, a U.S. media outlet, published the second article on the 12th (Korea Standard Time) in the form of answering readers’ questions. On the 11th, he answered a question about Kim Ha-sung’s possibility of staying in San Diego for the first time, and once again dealt with a story related to this.
This time, the story of Kim Ha-sung’s rival Jake Cronenworth (30) came out first. Cronenworth, who played second base, mainly played first base due to Kim Ha-sung, who moved from shortstop with Xander Bogaerts joining ahead of last season.
As a result, there are talks over the possibility of a trade, but Lynn said, “Cronenworth can at least continue as a first baseman. It’s not as ideal as it would be in 2023,” adding, “Or, as the next best option, we could move Bogaerts, who is still suitable as a shortstop, to first baseman. Machado will return to third base soon, and the Padres may recruit a batter who can split time between a first baseman and a designated hitter. Candidates include Brendan Belt, Dominic Smith, Joey Votto, and Carlos Santana. Recruitment of left-handed batters is a must. I believe that at least one more will be added before going to Korea.”
Earlier, Lynn saw the possibility of San Diego holding Kim Ha-sung, who will become an FA after this season, as an extension contract. “There are about nine months left for Kim Ha-sung to become an FA. However, San Diego is unlikely to raise funds for an extension contract with Kim Ha-sung. In addition, if Jackson Merrill, a prospect in the team, is ready to play, he can replace Kim Ha-sung’s position for less cost,” he said. “Just as we traded Juan Soto earlier, Kim Ha-sung is expected to use a similar strategy. However, the possibility of a trade ahead of the Major League’s opening game at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul seems small.”
Lin predicted that Kim Ha-sung’s ransom will be formed between $130 million and $150 million (about 171.5 billion won to 1979.9 billion won) based on the seven-year total. This means that Lee Jung-hoo (San Francisco Giants) can become the largest contract in the Korean Major League, surpassing $113 million for six years and $130 million for seven years signed by Choo Shin-soo (SSG Landers) with the Texas Rangers in 2013.
In addition, referring directly to Lee Jung-hoo, “Lee Jung-hoo, Kim Ha-sung’s best friend, signed a six-year, $113 million contract with San Francisco.” Although Lee Jung-hoo is three years younger than Kim Ha-sung, it is true that Lee Jung-hoo is lower in value in the current Major League than Kim Ha-sung. If Kim Ha-sung is sluggish in the 2024 season, his value may fall. However, Kim Ha-sung is better when it comes to defense and other contributions to the team.”
The fact that San Diego is unlikely to hold Kim Ha-sung due to the amount of money means that there is not much time left for the companion. This is because it is better to use it to reinforce other positions when it is worth using than to let him go after becoming an FA. The story that the possibility of a trade seems low before the opening series of Seoul, which is closely related to the box office success, also means that Kim Ha-sung can be used as a trade card after that.
Cronenworth was selected by San Diego in the 2015 rookie draft and debuted in 2020 and was evaluated as the future of his team. With a batting average of 0.285 in 2020, Cronenworth had a career-high season with 21 homers and 71 RBIs (on-base plus slugging) of 0.800 the following year. He showed off his ability as a troubleshooter with 17 homers and 88 RBIs, despite slowing down with a batting average of 0.239 in 2022.
San Diego signed a seven-year, $80 million (105.1 billion won) extension contract last year, but it has since shown a decline in its performance, causing disappointment. Last year’s performance was 0.229 with 10 home runs and 48 RBIs and 6 steals in 127 games, and OPS (0.689), which was nothing better than Kim Ha-sung.
In defense, Kim Ha-sung pitched 261 ⅓ to second base. He played 844 innings at first base. On the other hand, Kim Ha-sung extended his playing time in his first year due to his defense capability, but in 2022, he was listed as one of the three finalists for the National Shortstop Gold Glove in the National League. When he moved to second base last year due to Xander Bogaerts’ recruitment, he pitched 856 ⅔ to display perfect defense, and he also performed well at third base (253 ⅓ innings) and shortstop (153 ⅓ innings), becoming the winner of the NL Gold Glove in utility.
Nevertheless, there is a consensus that Cronenworth is a better option. MLB.COM, the website of the Major League Baseball, quoted San Diego reporter AJ Casabel’s article on the Padres beat on Wednesday, saying, “First baseman presents Cronenworth to the Padres.”
Asked if there is a real first baseman in San Diego, he said, “No. Cronenworth played the role well for some time last season, but the Padres must be losing some value by utilizing a good second baseman.”
“There is one of the most important questions this winter,” Casabel said, “and who the Padres will add to the first baseman and consequently how they will make up Cronenworth and the rest of the infield.”
In the end, the story has to be related to Kim Ha-sung. Cronenworth should be used as second baseman to enjoy proper value, and for this, it is a possible scenario that Kim Ha-sung must leave the team and bring in a proper player at first base. In addition, the name of Choi Ji-man, who joined the team in a trade last year, was also mentioned.
Choi is a defensive first baseman. Due to injuries and slumps last year, Choi was sluggish with six homers and 13 RBIs and an OPS of 0.624 in 39 games. He observed the number of homers compared to his at-bat, but had no homers since joining the San Diego Padres. In part, he had weaknesses against left-handed pitchers, which contributed to his extreme sacrifice to the platooning system. Casabel named Matt Carpenter, Garrett Cooper, and Jurickson Profar as candidates for the first base. Nathan Martorella, a top 11 prospect, was also cited as a potential candidate. This implies that he has ruled out Cronenworth as the first baseman.
Casabel said Cronenworth is not bad defensively, but unlike when he plays second base, he is a batter with no significant merit compared to the league’s average first baseman.
Realistically, however, Cronenworth’s entry as a second baseman is not easy at the moment. “Based on our current roster, the first baseman is probably the right spot,” Casabel said. “And he already has Kim Ha-sung, the utility Gold Glove Award winner and an even better defender than Cronenworth.”
“If Manny Machado returns from surgery early in the season and starts as a designated hitter, Kim Ha-sung may play at third base and Cronenworth at second base,” he said. “But that’s only temporary. If Cronenworth plays elsewhere, the Padres don’t have any players who are certain to play as first baseman at all 월카지노도메인.”
As a second baseman, there is a big wall called Kim Ha-sung. It is true that the value is not high compared to the investment made to play at first base. Is there a way to use Cronenworth instead of Kim Ha-sung, who is constantly mentioned as a trade card.
“A lot of rumors have been circulating about potential deals with Cronenworth or even Kim Ha-sung. Both are very useful players that the Padres want to keep,” Casabel said, explaining, “But the puzzle pieces don’t fit together right now. Considering that there are so many holes in the Padres list, I start to understand Cronenworth being referred to as a trade card.”
Nevertheless, the Padres are still not active in using Cronenworth as a trade card. Casabel asked why, “The reality is that the Padres don’t have to move. For now, it seems like you have a better chance of defending both Cronenworth and Kim Ha-sung and being more satisfied with your infield composure. But the reality is: The Padres don’t need to make a move. Right now, it feels lightly likelier that keep both Cronenworth and Kim and set for an in-field surplus.”
What’s more, Casabel said, “Cronenworth was a two-time All-Star. He was sluggish early last season, but he was productive as usual in July and August before he fractured his wrist this season. If the Padres trade Cronenworth, Kim Ha-sung will become a free agent and the long-term infield situation will get dark. Furthermore, since Juan Soto and Trent Grisham left, their lineup has already become too full of right-handed hitters.”
Casabel concluded that he needed to strengthen his first baseman. He said there are still many players in the market who can afford to buy first baseman resources. “Of course, the Padres cannot afford to miss players just like they did to Choi Ji-man at the end of the transfer market last year,” he added.
“The virtual first baseman has the potential to play the role of designated hitter. First of all, Cronenworth is there and there are healthy infielders,” he said. “Or he could allocate playing time from the beginning to prepare for injury or other absence of players. Or he could be a substitute for Cronenworth after a deal (trade, etc.) that helps the team address other requirements.”
Taken together, San Diego seems quite unlikely to trade Cronenworth. This is because it lacks left-handed hits and is the future of a team that has already signed a long-term contract. This is why Kim Ha-sung, who has one year left on the contract, is constantly mentioned as a trade card. Nevertheless, Casabel weighed in on the possibility that Kim Ha-sung will also remain. Considering San Diego’s complex infield situation, there is a high possibility that he will manage the infield leisurely.