Sure, we hear a lot about Marcus Semien (a 3.5 fWAR will do that), and we hear a whole lot about Luis Arraez (because flirting with a .400 batting average will do that), but the best second baseman in the National League is Ha-Seong Kim, and we’re not talking enough about him — and his potential to be valuable at the trade deadline.
This is Kim’s third season in the United States, and his best so far. He’s slashing .262/.351/.418, which is his career best. (His career average is .242/.319/.385 — the power with which he’s hitting the ball this year is remarkable.) Add to that 11 home runs, which ties his career high in the U.S. and is 11th among second basemen, and 16 stolen bases, another career high in the U.S. for Kim and the fourth-most among second basemen, and you start to get a sense of just how good he’s been this season.
One more point to show you just how good Kim has been. His walk rate (11.7%) is at a career high, and his swing has become one of the most selective in baseball. At the plate, Ha-Seong Kim is a complete player.
His defensive game has been equally strong with his 12 DRS in 488 innings, leading all MLB second basemen (Andrés Jiménez is second with nine). Although Kim is comfortable at third or short — two positions where the Padres are stacked — he’s blossoming as a second baseman.
Currently, Kim is in the third year of a four-year, $28 million deal with a mutual option for 2025. This year and next year, he will earn $7 million, which is a steal for a second baseman with an fWAR of 3.2, on the Padres roster, second only to Fernando Tatís Jr’s team-leading 3.5 fWAR.
Here’s a question: If the San Diego Padres become sellers at the deadline, should they consider moving Ha-Seong Kim?
His value on both sides of the plate is clear. On the farm, the Padres have a number of prospects, most notably Eguy Rosario, who is expected back from a broken ankle suffered in Winter Ball. Most of the Padres’ other depth at this position is Low-A, but shortstop Jackson Merrill is an exciting prospect who may work at second. His ETA is 2024 (read Kevin Henry’s interview with him here).
But this is a Padres team desperate to restock their farm system given recent commitments that have not paid off, so it’s worth considering Kim’s value as part of a trade (in May, MLB Pipeline ranked the Padres’ system 23rd). Certainly, it makes sense to discuss Josh Hader and Blake Snell, but the Padres should also consider Kim in these conversations. He would be more than a one-year rental, and his value to a contending team is clear.
Moreover, trading Kim would not affect the pillars of the Padres organization: Manny Machado, Fernando Tatís Jr., and Xander Bogaerts.
Ha-Seong Kim has been a great addition to the Padres roster, but perhaps it’s time to explore the possibilities of what he might bring back.