“Kim Ha-seong is the most productive and popular player in San Diego.”
It feels like a world away from home. Ha-seong Kim (28) has established himself as an irreplaceable player for the San Diego Padres. Ha-seong Kim boasted such outstanding defensive skills that he was selected as a finalist for this year’s Gold Glove in two categories, including second baseman and utility player. As he is expected to become the first Korean and Asian infielder, attention is being paid to whether he will be able to regain the starting shortstop position next year.
The American sports media ‘The Athletic’ reported on the 21st (Korean time) that ‘the San Diego team is considering changing the position of shortstop Xander Bogaerts (30).’ Ahead of this season, Bogaerts signed a free agent contract with San Diego for 11 years worth a total of $280 million (about 378.8 billion won). It was the 7th largest contract in Major League history. Bogaerts wanted to play shortstop, the position in which he was most comfortable, and the club agreed to his wishes.
When San Diego general manager AJ Preller hired Bogaerts last December, he said, “Five years from now? 10 years from now? 3 years from now? (I don’t know) This is a competition, and I think our players understand the situation. We “We’ve got a lot of talented players. We’re going to have to think about what’s best for our team and talk to the players, but Bogaerts is starting his first year at shortstop.”
According to the club’s decision, Ha-seong Kim, who was the starting shortstop in 2022, gave up his position to Bogaerts and moved to second base. Fernando Tatis Jr., who returned from shoulder injury rehabilitation, also gave up the title of ‘star shortstop’ and announced a new start as a right fielder.
Now, nine months later, San Diego appears to have changed its mind. San Diego failed to advance to the postseason, finishing third in the National League West Division with 82 wins and 80 losses this season. We invested a lot, and the players were brilliant, but they were not producing the best results, so we turned to changing the combination. This is the background to asking Bogaerts about his intention to change his position.
Bogaerts’ performance in the first year of his move to San Diego was not bad, but it was difficult to say it was the best. The Athletic said, ‘In a situation where the team’s overall performance was chaotic, Bogaerts was one of the players who showed off his skills. Bogaerts recorded a batting average of 0.285 and 170 hits, ranking first among San Diego hitters who filled the required at-bats. WAR (Contribution to Wins Compared to Replacement Players) provided by FanGraphs was 4.4, ranking second in the team. Bogaerts was also a good example of San Diego’s weakness in scoring. Bogaerts had a scoring average of 0.192. He explained, “Ha-Seong Kim and Tatis Jr., who gave up shortstop to Bogaerts, were both finalists for the Gold Glove.”
Bogaerts expressed confidence regarding his shortstop’s defense, saying, “I think he played well. I think he can play better defensively.”
Bogaerts still wants to play shortstop, but clubs looking for the best combination are making changes. It is true that after Bogatz joined, his position changed and it affected the defensive ability of other players.
The Athletic said, ‘Ha-seong Kim, who signed with the club until 2024, performed outstandingly as the starting second baseman this year, but still appears to have the best defense as a shortstop. Jake Cronenworth will soon enter the first year of his seven-year, $80 million contract extension, which makes him a better fit for second base than first base. Cronenworth moved to first base this year and had the worst season of his career. Tatis Jr. has made an excellent position change to full-time right field, but like Ha-seong Kim, he is still hoping to return to shortstop.’
Tatis Jr., who will play in San Diego until 2034, said, “I want to play shortstop. I still think I’m a good player, and I can do the hard work (defending shortstop).”
Ha-seong Kim expressed his true feelings, saying, “I still think shortstop is my best position, and the position where I can provide the best play.”
The Athletic said, ‘If Bogaerts moves to the right side of the infield, he will prefer second base to first base. However, some club officials said they believe that third baseman Manny Machado, shortstop Kim Ha-seong, second baseman Cronenworth, and first baseman Bogaerts are the best defensive combination.
However, there are variables until the beginning of next season. With Machado undergoing surgery to treat tennis elbow after this season, there is a possibility that defense will be difficult until the beginning of next season. Then, Ha-seong Kim becomes the most likely third baseman replacement.
There is also a way to resolve the complicated situation by trading Kim Ha-seong and Cronenworth, but neither is expected to be easy. The Athletic analyzed that ‘Kim Ha-seong is the most productive and popular player on the team, and Cronenworth has low trade value as he has just finished a career-low season.’메이저사이트
In any case, it can be said that Kim Ha-seong has been fully recognized for his defense while playing in the major league for three seasons. If necessary, he could push out Bogaerts and take over as the starting shortstop again, raising his stock price further ahead of free agency after the 2024 season.
Although Ha-seong Kim wants to return to shortstop, he expressed that he would not mind playing one more season as the starting second baseman. That’s how confident he became in defense.
Ha-seong Kim said, “There is absolutely no problem (playing second base again). Bogaerts is our team’s shortstop, and I respect him. He is our team’s starting shortstop, and I am our starting second baseman. And I gained confidence by working together for a season. . Next year, we will be able to play a tighter defense with Bogaerts. It will be much better,” he said positively.
What choice will San Diego make? In addition to winning the Gold Glove this year, Ha-seong Kim is curious about whether he will be able to return to shortstop next season.