Standout Korean SS Ha-seong Kim posted

December 7th, 2020

This winter's infield market is strong. Francisco Lindor and Nolan Arenado are available via trade, along with a free-agent class that features DJ LeMahieu, Marcus Semien, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, Justin Turner and Kolten Wong.

It's time to add a new name to the group: Korean shortstop Ha-seong Kim.

Sources say Kim, one of the preeminent players in the Korea Baseball Organization, has been posted by the Kiwoom Heroes; MLB teams face a Jan. 1 deadline to sign him.

Kim is coming off a season in which he posted career highs in home runs (30) and OPS (.921) over 138 games.

Kim, 25, was the youngest player among the top 10 home-run hitters in the KBO this year. Mel Rojas Jr. led the hitter-friendly league with 47 homers; former MLB players Preston Tucker (32), Jamie Romak (32) and Aaron Altherr (31) finished ahead of Kim, who ranked ninth.

The Rangers and Giants are viewed as suitors for Kim. Scouts who have seen Kim believe he can play shortstop in the Major Leagues, but his best fit could be with teams that have the flexibility to utilize him at second or third base.

To sign Kim, MLB teams must pay a release fee to the Heroes, calculated based on the amount of his guaranteed contract. The Heroes would receive a payment equal to 20 percent of the first $25 million, 17.5 percent of the next $25 million, and 15 percent on all amounts above $50 million.

The previous decade included two examples of Korean-born hitters leaving KBO clubs to sign with MLB teams via the posting system. The Heroes posted both: ByungHo Park, who signed with the Twins on Dec. 1, 2015, and Jung Ho Kang, who was signed by the Pirates on Jan. 16, 2015.

Kim is often compared to Kang, his predecessor as the Heroes' starting shortstop. Kang was a superior power hitter -- he posted an .867 OPS for the Pirates in 2016 -- but Kim is the stronger contact hitter, better defender and more athletic overall.

Kim shined on both sides of the ball during last year's WBSC Premier12, at which Team Korea won silver and qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games. Kim and outfielder Jung-hoo Lee were Korea's representatives on the All-World Team named after the tournament.