Ha-Seong Kim’s weird 2024 season puts Padres in tough spot with a potential extension

The Padres have a tough choice to make with just how far they are willing to go to keep Ha-Seong Kim.
Arizona Diamondbacks v San Diego Padres
Arizona Diamondbacks v San Diego Padres / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

When it comes to the San Diego Padres' current roster, no player's future appears to be more uncertain than Ha-Seong Kim's. The Padres have made it clear they want to extend Kim in the past, but no progress has been made on that front and there is basically no chance Kim will pick up his side of the $7 million mutual option for next season.

The only real question has been whether or not the Padres can offer him as much as other teams around the league that need an everyday shortstop will.

Fast forward to now and the Kim conundrum hasn't gotten any less complicated for the Padres. Not only are big spenders like the Dodgers still in need of a long-term solution at shortstop, but Kim's 2024 season has been weird enough that the Padres may not be willing to take as big a leap in terms of an extension to keep him around.

Ha-Seong Kim has been fine, but maybe not good enough for a Padres extension

Let's start with the good news, as there still a lot to like about Kim's game. While he hasn't been as defensively dominant as he was last year, Kim still grades out as a plus defender and the odds are that he will continue to trend upward as the year goes on given his track record. He is also really good at avoiding striking out, and his walk rate has been elite for two seasons now. Kim is quite quick and gets the most out of his speed with 14 stolen bases already this season. Again, all good things.

However, his offensive profile is a bit sketchy. Sure, he hit 17 homers last year and has nine taters in 2024, which is all well and good, but he ranks roughly in the bottom third of all qualified hitters in expected slugging, average exit velocity, bat speed, barrel %, and hard hit % in 2024 — and that's actually an improvement over his marks last year. That puts a lot of pressure on his grounders and soft line drives finding holes which is, more often than not, not sustainable.

The end result is a guy that is a good-to-great defender who walks a lot, but who doesn't impact the ball consistently. Exactly how much is that sort of player worth in terms of years and dollars? He probably wouldn't command the seven year, $177 million deal Dansby Swanson got from the Cubs because Swanson hits for more power, but the two players are of similar age and overall rWAR at the time of their free agencies, so it could be closer than you would think.

In short, the idea of the Padres keeping Kim is probably less likely than it was to start the season. Kim's offensive question marks that have been laid bare this season. Combine that with the Padres having a million shortstops, needing be restrained with their payroll, and facing a lot of competition for his services, and that creates the feeling we could be seeing the final few months of Kim's tenure in San Diego.

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