The New York Mets can make an international splash this offseason by signing Korean star Kim Ha-seong.
The New York Mets are looking to make the jump back to the postseason, and they’re willing to spend to make that happen. One player that can help them return to the postseason comes from the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), a premier professional baseball league in Asia that received attention when Major League Baseball delayed the start of the 2020 season.
This player is Kim Ha-seong, and he is soon going to be a well-known name around Major League Baseball. Kim Ha-seong is currently the star shortstop of the Kiwoom Heroes, a KBO team based in Seoul. Over the past couple seasons, Kim has excelled both offensively and defensively, displaying the all-around talent that few shortstops currently possess.
According to MLB Trade Rumors, Kim Ha-seong is expected to be posted right after Thanksgiving. Once he does, the New York Mets should proactively pursue him and not allow a potential Francisco Lindor trade to prevent them from doing so.
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Kim is being posted at the right moment in his career. He will be entering his age-25 season, which means that he is at the beginning of his prime. Reasonable expectations are that he can be productive for the next five to eight years.
Star shortstops rarely enter free agency before their primes are over. Unlike free agents Didi Gregorius, Marcus Semien, and Andrelton Simmons, Kim Ha-seong is still young enough to be valued based on potential but is old enough to also be evaluated by his performance in professional baseball.
His performance in the KBO is what the Mets could evaluate him on, and the returns are fantastic. Although the KBO is not the MLB talent-wise, Kim’s offensive output still suggests that he would be able to handle MLB pitching admirably.
Over the past couple of seasons, Kim has batted .307 and .306, respectively, marks that would instantly put him in the top 10% of the league in batting.
His other offensive metrics indicate that he can also provide power at a premier position. Over the course of 138 games in 2020, Kim clobbered 30 home runs, delivered 109 RBIs, stole 23 bases, and posted a wRC+ of 142. Although the combination of Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario wasn’t necessarily bad from an offensive standpoint (hitting .257 and combining for 7 home runs and 27 RBIs), Kim’s offensive numbers in South Korea suggest that he could be a modest upgrade.
Kim can also be valuable to the Mets because he brings defensive versatility that few of the Mets infielders offer. Although he played mostly at shortstop, Kim has spent time at third base (55 games) and has also played sparingly at second base. It is reasonable to expect, therefore, that Kim would market himself as an infielder who can play multiple positions to increase the type of offer he could reasonably expect.
Kim’s expected price tag is the final reason why the Mets should sign him. Although the Mets under Steve Cohen are not expected to be as thrifty as they were under the Wilpons, they still plan on spending wisely. Kim, as a foreign player with an unproven record in Major League Baseball, will not force any team to break the bank for him. MLB Trade Rumors has projected that he would fetch $40 million over five years. Considering that Kim is only 25 years old, and seeing that his statistics indicate that he can be a solid contributor if not a star at the MLB level, this price estimation could be a steal for the Mets or any team that acquires him.
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Even if the Mets trade for Francisco Lindor to be their everyday shortstop, they can install Kim Ha-seong at third base full-time or play him around the infield to give players like J.D. Davis and Robinson Cano days off from the field. A team can never have enough talent, and Kim is a player that fills a need for the Mets, makes them better in the long-term, and potentially sets them up with another franchise cornerstone player for years to come.