“Would love to see Bogart move to first and second base in 2024”
Drafted by the Nexen (now Kiwoom) Heroes with the 29th overall pick in the second round of the 2014 Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) First-Year Player Draft, Kim tried his hand at the major leagues through the “posting system” after playing in 891 games over seven seasons in the KBO, hitting .294 with 940 hits, 133 home runs, 575 RBI, 606 runs scored, 134 doubles, and an OPS of 0.866. The San Diego Padres signed him to a 4+1 year contract worth up to $39 million.메이저사이트
In fact, Kim’s first season in the big leagues was a bit of a disappointment. He played in 117 games, but as the season wore on, he saw more and more time in the lineup as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner, hitting just .202 with 54 hits, eight home runs, 34 RBIs, 27 runs scored, six doubles, and a .622 OPS. It didn’t take long for him to earn the starting job, though.
When starting shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. went under the knife with a wrist injury prior to the 2022 season and was subsequently lost for the season due to a PED violation, San Diego began to lean heavily on Kim, especially after trading “top prospect” CJ Abrams, the sixth overall pick in the first round of the 2019 MLB First-Year Player Draft, to the Washington Nationals to make room for Kim.
While he didn’t completely fill Tatis Jr.’s offensive shoes, Kim lived up to San Diego’s expectations. In 150 games, Kim showed improvement offensively from his first season, hitting .251 with 11 home runs, 59 RBIs, 58 runs scored, 12 doubles, and a .708 OPS, while his defense was solid enough to earn him a Gold Glove finalist for the National League shortstop award.
But before this season, there was a lot of talk in the local media. San Diego, which already had two starting shortstops in Kim Ha Sung and Tatis Jr, signed Zander Bogaerts to a massive 11-year, $280 million contract. This put Kim at the center of trade speculation, and with it the prospect of losing his starting job.
However, the addition of Bogart didn’t have much of an impact on Kim. Instead, the Dodgers moved Tatis Jr. to the outfield and Jake Cronenwirth, who had been playing second base, to first base, leaving Kim at second base. The Dodgers’ “traffic jam” only confirmed how much the team needed him.
As a result, as of the end of the game on Aug. 18, Kim has played in 117 games, batting .281 with 15 home runs, 42 RBI, 67 runs scored, 27 doubles, and an OPS of .813. While he hasn’t hit as well as his season-high .290 average against the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 12, his offense is the best it’s been since he joined the majors. His defense has been solid. He leads all National League second basemen in every statistical category.
Kim’s continued success has raised the possibility that he could move back to shortstop for the 2024 season. That’s because San Diego is considering calling up 2021 first-round draft pick Jackson Merrill. In order to give Merrill a chance, it’s likely that Kim will move back to shortstop as part of another logistical move.
In 28 games at Double-A this year, Merrill is hitting .313 with 36 hits, three home runs, five doubles, and an .863 OPS. While he’s still in Double-A, he’s hitting well in 182 career minor league games with 221 hits, 19 homers, 31 doubles, and a .304 OPS of 0.817, so he’s worth a call-up when rosters expand in September.
The Athletic writes, “It’s unclear when Merrill will play for San Diego, whether it’s in September or next season. “One possible scenario is that Merrill starts in a utility role, with Tatis Jr. sliding to right field and Ha-Sung Kim to second base in the signing of Bogart. Merrill has been practicing at first base, second base, and even the corner outfield lately.”
Along the way, The Athletic raised the possibility that Kim could return to shortstop next season. “San Diego team officials would like to see Bogaerts move to first or second base in 2024,” the publication said, “with Kim returning to shortstop and Merrill playing utility if he can’t settle in.” That’s how highly regarded Kim’s defense is.
San Diego had a position switch in mind when they acquired Bogart. However, Bogaerts’ desire to play shortstop forced several players to change positions. However, Bogaerts is a player who will have to change positions at some point. It remains to be seen if that time will be next year, as The Athletic predicts.