Chicago Cubs: Ha-Seong Kim is a solid backup plan at shortstop

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs fans are all-in on getting Carlos Correa to the Windy City by any means necessary and the team, for their part, seems to share in that interest. There’s no doubt he is the best option available for them to plug the hole at shortstop, but there are still no guarantees that he’ll agree to the shorter-term deal the front office prefers. The backup options are limited, but interesting.

On the trade market, one option that makes a lot of sense is San Diego infielder Ha-Seong Kim. Kim was a possible target for the Cubs before the 2021 season but joined the Padres as a utilityman to fill in whenever and wherever needed. The plan didn’t go particularly well: Kim only hit .202 with a 72 OPS+ in 298 plate appearances.

Even with his struggles though, Kim was a 2.1 WAR player with plenty of positives to pull from his first season in the majors. Outs above average really likes him defensively, rating him in the 82nd percentile of all players. That’s a big factor considering the number of soft tossers and contact arms the Cubs are throwing out there in 2022. Add in a 2.6 UZR/150 and 9 DRS at the shortstop position and you have a pretty solid defensive shortstop with room to grow with more reps.

Outside of the actual play, the cost to acquire Kim would also likely be negligible given his poor performance in 2021. Perhaps, with the Cubs poking around about Eric Hosmer, they could work something out to land Kim as part of a larger package and take the rest of his four-year, $28 million salary off of the Padres’ hands

Ha-Seong Kim is a cost-effective backup if the Cubs can’t land Carlos Correa

It’s not a sexy move by any stretch of the imagination, but Kim fits the base needs of the Cubs in a similar way to another trade target we covered: Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Kim lacks that same defensive prowess and sheer versatility, but arguably has a higher ceiling on offense. His career slash line in the KBO was a far more formidable .294/.373/.493. It clearly hasn’t translated over yet, but with more time to adjust, Kim has the potential to become more of an offensive threat.

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At the very least, Kim plugs a hole at shortstop with good defense for a low price. Even if the bat never pans out, he’s enough to get the Cubs by as they wait for prospects to come up. We’d all rather have Correa, but if worst comes to worst, Kim is one of the best remaining backup options out there. It’s a good, cheap risk to take.