Mets could use Korean star Kim Ha-seong more than ever now
Robinson Cano’s suspension provides the New York Mets an opportunity to sign the South Korean star Kim Ha-seong and sets them up with many lineup options going forward.
Earlier this month, I wrote an article detailing why the New York Mets should consider signing Kim Ha-seong once he is posted by the KBO and the Kiwoom Heroes. I highlighted his versatility in the infield, reasonable price tag, and offensive capabilities as reasons why the Mets would find him an attractive addition to their infield.
At the time I wrote the piece, the Mets were facing an infield logjam. With Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez, Robinson Cano, J.D. Davis, and Jeff McNeil in the mix for three infield positions, there was the chance and high probability that some of these players were either going to have to play out of position (like McNeil in left field, for example) or be relegated to bench roles assuming that the Mets do not trade any of them.
I still argued that the Mets signing Kim Ha-seong would set them up well for the future while helping them win now, and I still firmly believe that. Adding Kim Ha-seong to their current group of infielders would leave the Mets in a great negotiating position to make trades, and he is better defensively and more versatile than many of their current infielders.
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Since the time I wrote the article, the baseball world received a piece of stunning news: ESPN reported that their second baseman Robinson Cano had tested positive for stanozolol, and because this is an illicit substance on MLB’s performance-enhancement drug list, Cano is suspended for the entire 2021 season.
At first glance, the loss of Cano’s bat could be seen as substantial. He is coming off a year in which he hit .316/.354/.544, rebounding from his mediocre 2019 season.
However, Robinson Cano’s suspension is a blessing in disguise for the Mets. Although Cano played well in 2020, the Mets offense was well-balanced and deep as it was, so it wasn’t like Cano carried the team’s offense.
Defensively, however, was another story. Cano, Rosario, and Davis are all below-average defenders at second, shortstop, and third base, respectively, and for a team hoping to return to the postseason, having an infield with three below-average defenders (four if you count Pete Alonso at first base) does not set the Mets up for sustained success.
Because of this, bringing aboard Kim Ha-seong now makes even more sense.
The Mets have the offense to compete without Robinson Cano. They boast a lineup featuring three players who hit over .300 in 2020 (McNeil, Smith, and Conforto), not to mention power-hitting Pete Alonso, on-base speedster Brandon Nimmo, and capable hitters in Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez, and J.D. Davis.
However, they do not have the pitching and certainly could improve their infield defense. Rosario is worth -3 defensive runs saved (DRS) and J.D. Davis was worth -9 DRS at third base in 2020. Signing Kim Ha-seong would give the team a quality defensive infielder and serve as a solution to one of the team’s current weaknesses.
Consider this potential Mets infield. What they could do is sign Kim Ha-seong and play him at third base for most of the time, a position that he has played professionally. Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez could continue to share duties at shortstop while Jeff McNeil moves over to second base to cover the loss of Cano. J.D. Davis, meanwhile, can split time at third base and left field, giving Kim Ha-seong and Dominic Smith (who will play left field a lot if there is no universal DH for 2021 to keep his bat in the lineup) the day off occasionally.
This also sets them up well to field to withstand potential injuries or field trade calls on any of their players (J.D. Davis being one of them). Having a multitude number of options is always a good thing.
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As long as Kim’s rumored price tag stays within the range MLB Trade Rumors projects it at, there is no reason why the Mets should not consider bringing him aboard. He would already make a talented infield group better, and he could potentially serve as another long-term piece for the Mets for the foreseeable future.