Ha-Seong Kim’s future destination could be nightmare for Padres

Will this be Ha-Seong Kim's last season in San Diego?

San Diego Padres infielder Ha-Seong Kim
San Diego Padres infielder Ha-Seong Kim / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Though Padres fans would probably prefer to focus on the 2024 season, the harsh reality is that one of San Diego's best players may not be on the roster at this time next year. Ha-Seong Kim's contract for the 2025 season is not guaranteed. The Padres shortstop has a mutual option for next season that the Friars will likely exercise. However, if Kim doesn't do the same, he'll become a free agent next winter.

There've been whispers about a potential extension, but nothing has materialized. The Padres also have other players who may be in line for similar compensation, including newly acquired pitchers Dylan Cease and Michael King.

But if the Padres fail to secure Kim's services beyond next season, several teams will surely be interested in signing in the free agent to-be. Unfortunately, there's one team who has a glaring hole at shortstop, and it would be Pads fans' worst nightmare if Kim landed there.

Ha-Seong Kim’s future destination could be nightmare for Padres

Sorry, Padres fans, but Kim could sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers next offseason. While the Friar faithful would absolutely hate the idea of Kim signing with their arch rival, the fit couldn't be more logical.

The Padres simply don't have the payroll flexibility available in order to sign Kim to a long-term contract. San Diego has Manny Machado, Yu Darvish, Xander Bogaerts, Joe Musgrove, and Fernando Tatis Jr. all under contract through at least 2027. The average annual value of all five contracts is over $118 million. Throw in the contracts of Robert Suarez, Jake Cronenworth, and Yuki Matsui, and it's difficult to see the Friars ponying up the dough necessary in order to retain Kim.

The Dodgers, however, have shown that they'll just willing throw millions upon millions of dollars at top-flight free agents in order to buy a championship for the fans in LA. The Dodgers spent over $1 billion this past winter in order to sign Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Los Angeles also traded for Tyler Glasnow and then signed him to a multi-year extension.

The Dodgers also have a gaping hole at shortstop. For the time being, Mookie Betts is LA's starting shortstop, but that experiment has the makings of a short-term project that could go awry before the All-Star break.

It may sting but Padres fans should not be surprised if the Dodgers are at the front of the line to sign Kim next winter. There's still time for the Padres and Kim to work something out, but it doesn't seem entirely likely.

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