Ha-Seong Kim trade buzz suggests Padres’ could strike during spring training

Even with spring training on the horizon, the Padres could still move Ha-Seong Kim before the season starts.
St. Louis Cardinals v San Diego Padres
St. Louis Cardinals v San Diego Padres / Orlando Ramirez/GettyImages
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So far, the San Diego Padres offseason has been marked more by the players they have lost than any additions.

Assuming no reunions are in order, the 2024 Padres will not have Juan Soto, Blake Snell, Michael Wacha, Seth Lugo, Gary Sanchez, Trent Grisham, Josh Hader, Garrett Cooper or Ji-Man Choi. However one wants to slice it, this is going to be a very different team when San Diego takes the field on Opening Day.

There's still plenty to like about the roster the Padres still have in place, including the surprisingly productive Ha-Seong Kim, who put up 5.8 rWAR last year thanks in large part to playing top-tier defense. However, one's excitement about Kim might be short-lived as persistent rumors that he could be traded have continued even now in the lead up to spring training.

Are the Padres looking to trade Ha-Seong Kim this spring?

The rationale for trading Kim now makes some sense assuming that fielding the best team possible this year isn't super high on the list of priorities. The Padres already have a ton of infielders, with more coming from the minor leagues, to the point where finding playing time for everyone is going to be a challenge. On top of that, Kim only has one guaranteed year of team control left as his contract has a mutual option for 2025 that he almost certainly will decline in search of big free agent dollars.

To maximize the return for Kim especially in a world where giving him an extension isn't on the table (although it should be), trading him before the season gets started would be ideal as full year of the infielder at $7 million is going to yield a nicer package of prospects. Even at a high price point, the Padres are not going to have a shortage of suitors if they decide to move him since at least half the league could use a versatile quality defender.

It's usually true that once spring training gets started, the trade market typically stalls until the trade deadline. However, AJ Preller is no stranger to making deals right before the season starts. The Padres dealt for Craig Kimbrel right before Opening Day that helped fuel Preller's reputation as one of the league's dealmakers. We'll soon find out if the front office has another late move brewing.

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