By: Kevin Henry
The San Diego Padres already have seen manager Bob Melvin and prized free agent Jung Hoo Lee make their ways to the San Francisco Giants this offseason. What are the chances the Padres could also lose their Gold Glove-winning shortstop to their National League West rivals as well?
Sure, it’s a far-fetched notion that the Padres would actually trade one of their offensive leaders from 2023 in Ha-Seong Kim to their division rivals, but there are some interesting signs to examine if you are looking for any shred of possibility that it could happen.
With the Giants landing Lee with a massive six-year, $113 million deal, San Francisco continued an offseason that has been stinging in San Diego. First, Melvin bolted the Padres to take over as the San Francisco manager. Then, recently, Lee’s signing ended what was reportedly a competition between the Giants and Padres to see who could ink him to his inaugural MLB contract.
Shortly after being introduced by the Giants and then returning to Korea, Lee did an interview where he mentioned Kim, a former KBO teammate who is in the final year of a four-year, $28 million deal.
While Kim has a $7 million mutual option for the 2025 campaign, there is little question that the price tag for his services will go up in the coming seasons and he should be looking to hit free agency after next season, assuming he can replicate the success he had in 2023.
In that interview, Lee said of Kim, “It’d be great to play on the same team again. But we’ll see what happens. He’s the first one that I called after I signed. He told me I’ll get to play for a great manager.”
Yes, Kim knows plenty about Melvin from their time together in San Diego, and that familiarity could come into play if the Giants are indeed looking to trade for a shortstop as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle mentioned in this article.
Mentioning Kim as a possibility by name (along with Milwaukee’s Willy Adames), Slusser believes the Giants may try to put together a trade package that includes former second overall pick Joey Bart. After struggling in his first 162 games in a Giants uniform, could San Francisco use the catcher as a change of scenery candidate to land Kim?
Bart alone would not be enough to land Kim, but it is one piece that could interest the Padres as part of a bigger package.
Granted, a trade within the division, especially with a team with their former manager at the helm, is tough to envision. However, if the Padres are looking to maximize on the season where Kim posted 5.8 bWAR (the highest of any San Diego position player), there is no better time for A.J. Preller to at least be listening to offers … even if they might be coming from within the division.
Kim would immediately slot atop the Giants lineup, with his ability to get on base at a high clip and use his speed to add real value as a guy who could score a lot of runs. Kim swiped 38 bases in 2023 and scored 84 runs. He also blasted a career-high 17 home runs.
With Lee under contract for six years now, the Giants could look to extend Kim if they can acquire him in a trade, keeping the tandem of Lee and Kim together atop their lineup for years to come.
Meanwhile, the Padres have enough infielders with Xander Bogaerts, Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth that will make it easier to absorb the loss of Kim, regardless of how good he was this past season. This might the time for these two division rivals to make a trade, with Kim being a perfect fit for the Giants.