Did Xander Bogaerts’ injury shift Padres’ attention to Ha-Seong Kim extension?

San Diego Padres v Cincinnati Reds
San Diego Padres v Cincinnati Reds / Kirk Irwin/GettyImages

Xander Bogaerts is set to miss an extended period of time thanks to a fracture in his left shoulder. He sustained the injury diving for a ground ball up the middle during Monday's early game against the Braves.

Bogaerts had primarily been playing second base for the Friars this year, ceding shortstop duties to Ha-Seong Kim, who is the better defender of the two.

Kim has been an integral piece for the Padres the last three years. He's provided elite defense with a solid bat, and done so all for a measly $7 million per year. If he had hit the free agent market this past winter he probably would have tripled his annual salary, but unfortunately for him that wasn't the case.

2023 was a strong year for the young infielder. He posted 5.8 bWAR, won a Gold Glove as a utility man, and received down-ballot MVP votes after hitting .260/.351/.398 with 38 steals.

Kim's performance last year had gotten Padres fans thinking about a contract extension. But with the unexpected passing of owner Peter Seidler and the league office coming down on the team thanks to the seldom-used debt service clause, those contract extension ideas went away and devolved into thoughts of trading him.

Kim has been thought of as a guy who will be too expensive to keep around, but with Bogaerts due to miss most of the summer and the Padres expected to be in the playoff hunt all year, they really can't afford to lose arguably the second-best player on the roster to free agency.

The Padres should shift their focus to extending Ha-Seong Kim

Now might be the best time to try to ink Kim to an extension. He's had some struggles at the plate this year and is hitting just .214 with a .364 slugging percentage. However, he's doing so with elite plate discipline and his expected stats suggest that he's been underperforming so far.

Kim has an expected batting average of .247, and his expected slugging percentage on breaking balls is 100 points higher than his posted results so far. Those data points suggest Kim is getting unlucky on contact and that he'll likely turn his season around sooner than later.

It's worth AJ Preller's time to try to work with Kim and his agent to see if there's a way to keep him in San Diego long-term. Dennis Lin of The Athletic ($) had previously suggested that an extension would likely run the Padres upwards of seven years and between $130 - $150 million.

That's a steep price, but the Padres are much better with Kim in the lineup than without him. The team has Luis Arraez and Jake Cronenworth who can step in and play second base, but they're a step down from Kim talent-wise.

The Padres will have a limited window to extend Kim if they want to keep him around. They'd be wise to try to take advantage of his slow start and lock him up before they lose him this winter.