Padres Win Bid on Kwang-Hyun Kim


Last night the bidding process on 26-year-old South Korean lefty, Kwang-Hyun Kim ended and the San Diego Padres ended up on top according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Kim is looked upon as the top Korean pitcher since the departure of Hyun-jin Ryu to the Dodgers a couple years ago. He’s pitched his entire 8-year career with the SK Wyverns of the KBO where he posted a 3.28 ERA with a record of 83-49.

While the Padres are the winner of the bid, there’s no guarantee he’ll be coming to America. Rosenthal also notes that the Padres $2 million bid was a lot lower than the SK Wyverns were expecting. They wanted $10 million for Kim’s services and only getting 20% of that might make them reconsider letting their ace negotiate with the Padres. If they do decide to pull him back, he’s next chance to pitch in the MLB will be after the 2016 season where he’ll have the option of being declared a free agent.

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If he does actually get a chance to pitch in the MLB it may not be in his preferred role. Despite the fact he was primarily used as a starter in Korea, many people have speculated that he might be best utilized as a reliever. This makes a lot more sense for the Padres. With their glutton of starting pitchers, adding another seems a little counter intuitive, but if he was used out of the pen, it would make much more sense. While I wouldn’t rule out Kim starting down the line, if he’s a member of the 2015 Padres, he’d be a long shot for the rotation.

One thing that would worry me about Kim out of the bullpen is his high walk rate. In his KBO career, he’s averaged 4.1 walks per 9 innings, a mark that would have been the 20th worst mark in the majors among relievers last year. While it’s better than the Padres lone lefty reliever Alex Torres, whose 5.50 mark was 7th worst, it’s still something to watch out for. One reason many young pitchers struggle with command is because of the power they throw with, like Aroldis Chapman who walks batters at a similar rate, but that’s not the case with Kim. His fastball sits around the mid-to-low 90’s and tops out at 96.

He may not be Kenta Maeda or Yasmany Tomas, but A.J. Preller was supposed to make the Padres a strong international prescence and it’s already begun. Kim is a very young, but established pitcher. While the track record for Korean pitchers is just about non-existent, for someone at Kim’s age there’s plenty of room to group up and learn. I’m excited for the chance to see him succeed in San Diego.