Padres make 4-year deal with Kim official

January 1st, 2021

The Padres completed their 2020 holiday spree on Thursday, ringing in the New Year by finalizing a four-year deal with their latest big-name arrival, infielder Ha-Seong Kim.

Kim is set to make $28 million over the course of his four-year contract, according to sources, and San Diego must also pay a release fee of around $5 million to his former club, the Kiwoom Heroes. Kim’s deal includes a mutual option for the 2025 season. To clear space on the 40-man roster, the Padres designated outfielder Greg Allen for assignment.

The 25-year-old Kim was one of the most coveted free-agent infielders on the market this offseason. In seven seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization, Kim batted .294/.373/.493, while playing primarily shortstop and third base.

The Padres, of course, already have Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado at those two spots, so Kim's signing leaves some question marks about his fit. Team decision-makers think he'd slot nicely at second base as a platoon partner with Jake Cronenworth. They also think Cronenworth and/or Kim could slide to the outfield if necessary -- likely foreshadowing a Spring Training experiment.

But Kim's arrival marks something of a bigger trend: The Padres really aren't too concerned about his fit. They just think he's a very good -- and very versatile player. It's useful to have lots of those, regardless of where they play. The Dodgers employed that strategy and won the World Series last season. The Padres appear to be following the same model.

In 2020, as the KBO garnered new audiences due to the pandemic, Kim broke out as a toolsy star. He batted .306/.397/.523 with 30 homers and 24 doubles in 138 games. He was posted in early December, and the Padres quickly became a frontrunner.

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The Kim signing is the latest splash in a huge week for the franchise. On Tuesday, San Diego finalized trades with left-hander Blake Snell and right-hander Yu Darvish. Agreements on all three transactions materialized in the span of 24 hours late Sunday night into Monday.

The Padres were looking for a rotation overhaul, following Mike Clevinger’s Tommy John surgery in November. They checked that box in a big way with the additions of Snell and Darvish.

Their offense, meanwhile, was one of the best in baseball last season and returns starters at all eight defensive positions. But that didn’t stop general manager A.J. Preller from adding another talented, high-upside infielder.

After a postseason breakthrough in 2020, Preller and the Padres clearly aren’t resting on their laurels.