The MLB offseason has reached a lull in terms of high-profile moves, but the San Diego Padres are still wheeling and dealing in free agency.
On Friday, the Padres inked deals with veteran outfielder Adam Engel and former Rays pitching prospect Brent Honeywell. While Engel is what he is at this point in his career -- a plus outfielder who contributes little offensively -- Honeywell is an intriguing reclamation project for San Diego's pitching staff.
Honeywell underwent Tommy John surgery after the 2017 campaign, and didn't pitch again until 2021 following a trio of other surgeries. The right-hander has started just two games in his big-league career, so it goes without saying he won't be expected to contribute to the rotation out of the gates.
At this stage of the offseason, starting pitching is (still) the Padres' biggest need. While there's some viable hurlers still braving free agency, general manager AJ Preller might have to defer to his passion for trades to bring in reinforcements.
The Marlins' Pablo Lopez and the Braves' Ian Anderson are two names being floated around, but Red Sox writers Chris Cotillo (Mass Live) and Sean McAdam (Boston Sports Journal) proposed a straight swap involving Ha-Seong Kim and Boston starter Tanner Houk on a recent episode of "Fenway Rundown."
Should the Padres trade Ha-Seong Kim to the Red Sox for RHP Tanner Houck?
If the Red Sox sign off, the Padres should absolutely make this trade. For starters, Boston's shortstop outlook is bleak after San Diego stole Xander Bogaerts in free agency. They could move Trevor Story from second base -- he played SS in Colorado -- but his arm strength would leave the team compromised defensively.
That's where Kim comes in. McAdam believes the 27-year-old could be a perfect bridge to touted prospect Marcelo Mayer. MLB Pipeline has Mayer as the No. 7 prospect in baseball, but he just turned 20 and topped out at High-A Greenville in 2022.
Not only is Kim an elite defender, but his offensive production should improve in the hitter-friendly Fenway Park. Finally, he's owed just $7 million in each of the next two years. Even the penny-pinching Red Sox wouldn't balk at that. By the time Kim is up for free agency after 2024, Mayer should be ready to take over the position.
As for Houck, what's not to like? He's not a full-time starter, but that aligns with the profile of pitchers Preller has targeted this offseason. Why not add another tweener to the mix?
In three seasons (20 starts), Houck owns a 3.02 ERA with 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings. His 8.7% walk rate needs some work, but that alone shouldn't dissuade San Diego from acquiring a talented young pitcher who's under club control through the 2027 season.
There might be better names on the market, but the Padres will be hard-pressed to acquire another pitcher of Houck's caliber in a straight swap for a player in Kim who might not even be an everyday starter following Bogaerts' arrival.