KBO superstar Ha-Seong Kim is the offensive player the Chicago Cubs need.
The list of middle-infielders hitting the free agent market this offseason might not draw much attention at first glance, but there is one name from overseas all teams will be keeping their eyes on: Ha-Seong Kim.
At 25 years old, Kim has become a star with his bat as well as his glove while playing shortstop for the Kiwoom Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization. Ironically, Kim is currently teammates with ex-Cub Addison Russell, as well as a former Cubs pitching prospect looking to make his return to the big leagues, Eric Jokisch.
It’s believed Kim will be negotiating with MLB teams in the upcoming weeks as the offseason begins to heat up. If the Cubs haven’t added Kim to their wish list, they need to immediately.
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For starters, he may not be as expensive as people think. Kim is currently ranked as the 15th best free agent of this class and projected to sign a contract in the neighborhood of five years and $20 million, according to Kiley McDaniel of ESPN.com.
Considering how cheap Theo Epstein and the Cubs are projected to be this offseason, that price tag should meet their budget, and might not be a bad risk for a player who just turned 25 last month.
Offensively, Kim is everything the Cubs need, as well as everything they’ve lacked in recent years–a high-contact player who can make things happen on the bases.
In 619 plate appearances this year, Kim turned in a .926 OPS with 30 homers and 109 RBI. His 23 stolen bases and 75 walks to just 68 strikeouts makes Kim an ideal candidate to bring balance to an abysmal Cubs offense.
Now when it comes to international players, I usually err on the side of caution. I say this because the talent in the KBO or any other international league is not the same as what overseas players are up against in Major League Baseball. Today’s MLB players are bigger, stronger and more skilled than any other baseball players around the world, which is why they play at this level.
We’ve seen how tough it can be for international players to make the adjustments to the MLB-level after teams have a script on how to beat them. Heck, we’ve even seen it happen to domestic players who can’t adjust and eventually fade out of the league.
That being said, if the price is right I would still roll the dice and sign Kim. Knowing how tough the adjustments can be, the Cubs would have to trust they can surround him with the players and personnel to help him find success in the big leagues.
Ideally, Kim will man the middle infield at second base alongside Javier Baez at shortstop. I would add Kim on my wish list of second basemen for the Cubs along with Kolten Wong, Tommy LaStella and DJ LaMahieu, and sign someone depending on their price-tags as well as the possibilities of moving around other players.
Of course there’s still a fog of uncertainty as to which direction Epstein and the Cubs will go as we inch closer to the 2021 season. We should get more answers as the weather outside gets colder, and the offseason begins to heat up.