Padres sign Ha-Seong Kim
The Padres made the biggest splash to date of this offseason late Sunday night/early Monday morning when they pulled off the blockbuster deal that sent Blake Snell out to San Diego. They weren’t ready to stop there, though. They made two more big moves on Monday, the first of which was a free agent signing. Monday afternoon news broke that the Padres had signed KBO star Ha-Seong Kim to a four-year deal worth $25 million. This came mere hours after I had profiled Kim as a potential target for the Red Sox.
You can follow that second link for more information on the player himself, who is only 25 years old as we head into 2021 and has been one of the best players in the KBO since he was 19. I won’t rehash his entire scouting report, but I will say the Padres did likely get better on the infield. Interestingly, he went to a team with one of the best shortstops in baseball in Fernando Tatís Jr., as well as one of the best third basemen in Manny Machado. One of my main concerns with Kim’s fit in Boston was that he’d want to go somewhere he could patrol the left side of the infield, but that clearly won’t be happening in San Diego, either. Instead, he’ll likely see the bulk of his time at second base, with 2020 Rookie of the Year finalist Jake Cronenworth presumably moving out to the outfield.
Either way, the Padres continue to build one of the best rosters in baseball, and as you’ll see in just a second, they didn’t stop here. But first, as far as the Red Sox go it’s hard to know how upset to be about missing out on Kim. I certainly think the reported four for 25 deal is well worth it and I’d be upset if the Red Sox weren’t willing to go there, but for two reasons I’m not overly mad. For one, I don’t know what went into Kim’s decision. There’s a variety of reasons beyond the financials — clubhouse, talent, chances of winning, location — for a player to choose San Diego over Boston at this point.
And secondly, while I like the scouting reports I’ve seen from Kim, I was not actually scouting him myself. For a player like this coming from overseas, it’s hard not to appeal to the authority of the Red Sox scouts who actually saw him, as much as I typically hate that kind of argument. If they didn’t feel he was a big-time player, it’s hard to argue too much with that given my relative lack of knowledge here. All that said, at a certain point it’s more grating to hear they were runners up for players than it would be to hear nothing at all.
Padres trade for Yu Darvish
As I said, the Padres weren’t done with Snell, and they weren’t done with Kim. Later on Monday, after an entire day of rumors, they finally got a deal done to acquire 2020 NL Cy Young runner up Yu Darvish from the Cubs. They also got Darvish’s personal catcher Victor Caratini in exchange for Zach Davies, Reginald Preciado, Yeison Santana, Owen Cassie, and Ismael Mena. It’s a big package going back to Chicago, but just as in the Snell deal as well as the Mike Clevinger trade from the summer, the Padres managed to add a top-tier pitcher without giving up one of their elite prospects.
The Padres are, frankly, one of the two best teams in baseball at this point. After the way Darvish pitched in 2020, there’s a pretty good argument to be had that he is actually a more significant pickup for them than Snell. That comparison doesn’t matter a ton, though, because they are now both in San Diego. The bad news for the Padres, insofar as there is bad news, is that the best team is still the Dodgers, who are in their division. But if you’re looking for the best baseball possible this summer, be prepared to stay up late because it will be taking place out on the west coast.
Moving over to the Cubs side, it’s truly pathetic how quickly they are moving on from that 2016 core and just dumping salaries. And remember, when the Cubs alienated Kris Bryant for that extra year of team control, it was so they could have him for 2021. Oops. This all could be good for the Red Sox — we’ll have more on potential targets from this Chicago roster at some point in the near future — but for baseball to see one of the marquee franchises in the league sell like they are expected to, the year after Boston traded away Mookie Betts, is not great. All that said, depending on how far they go with trading this winter they still could sneak to the top of their division, which says more about the state of the NL Central than anything good about the Cubs.