Cincinnati Reds fans got a taste of the defensive value that Jose Garcia can bring to the table in 2020. The young shortstop has a cannon for an arm and shows off both good range and hands at the position. But what the 2020 season also showed us is that his bat isn’t quite ready for the Major Leagues yet. That’s not entirely unexpected given that before he stepped into the Major Leagues he had never had a single at-bat in Double-A or Triple-A. He did spend July and August at the Reds alternate site where he routinely would face pitchers with Double-A, Triple-A and even Major League experience – so it wasn’t like he had never seen advanced pitching. But there’s a difference between that setting and big league game settings, too.
Cincinnati remains high on Jose Garcia, no doubt. He’s got all of the tools that you want to see, and we’ve seen some of them on display in 2020. The power jumped out back in February and March in spring training in Goodyear. The defense, well, we saw that in the big leagues this season. He can run a little bit, too. But he also walked one time with 26 strikeouts in 68 plate appearances during the year. His bat is going to have to improve, and improve a lot over what he showed in 2020 if he’s going to get where people think he can be.
The Reds could go look at the free agent market for a stop-gap shortstop to hopefully allow Jose Garcia time to work on things in the minors in 2021. But there’s also the option of potentially just signing someone long term to play the position. Usually that’s not how you find your shortstop due to the fact that most guys don’t reach free agency until their late 20’s and that’s when most shortstops start making the move to second or third base. But news came out on Thursday from Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors that the KBO’s Kiwoom Heroes would be posting 25-year-old shortstop Ha-Seong Kim.
In May, Kyle Glaser of Baseball America noted that Kim would be a Top 100 prospect if he signed with a big league team and had him as the top prospect in the KBO. Kiley McDaniel of ESPN has also been hearing good things and may have Kim as a Top 10 free agent this year.
This is big: a 25-year-old everyday type shortstop. Pacific Rim scouts were telling me this guy should have made my Top 100 prospect list (if eligible) last winter. Putting together FA list but could be top 10 in this shallow class. FA target for rebuilding clubs. https://t.co/bSErg7WCBB pic.twitter.com/zRxis6XCtJ
— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) October 8, 2020
While Kiley McDaniel’s tweet has some stats in it, let’s take a look at a more complete picture:
Once he reached his 20’s, Ha-Seong Kim really cut his strikeout rate. His walk rate has also crept upward over the years, too. Last season he did hit a career best 27 home runs, but his slugging percentage hasn’t really changed much since he was 19-years-old, either. He’s been very consistent with his power over the years.
Here’s some fun clips of some absolute blasts from over the summer.
Gocheok Sky Dome could barely hold this one ???
— Céspedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) August 5, 2020
In order to sign Ha-Seong Kim a team has to come to an agreement with the shortstop and based on how much that deal is for, pay a fee to his team for that. If the deal is for $25M or less, the posting fee would be 20% of that contract. If the deal is between $25M and $50M, the fee would be 20% of the first $25M and then 17.5% of the remaining deal. In a deal worth more than $50M, it holds the same elevators as before, but anything over $50M is at 15%.
When it comes to Major League Baseball – this deal will not be like the one that was there for Shohei Ohtani, who had to sign a minor league contract. Ha-Seong Kim has been a professional for enough years, and is 25-years-old and thus is “allowed” to sign a Major League deal.
Now, why would the Cincinnati Reds do this if they already have Jose Garcia? It’s a good question. But why would the Cincinnati Reds sign Nick Castellanos in January when they already had Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker, Shogo Akiyama, and Aristides Aquino? To get better.
Cincinnati should probably head into the 2021 offseason looking for a starting shortstop. Jose Garcia likely needs time in the minors. He, like so many others, were put in a very weird position in 2020 because of all that was going on.
It would obviously be different to sign a player like Ha-Seong Kim than a guy who would fall into the “stop-gap” category. But there’s also never a “this team has TOO MUCH talent” complaint, either. If you have a very good player that you simply can’t find playing time for, someone else will, and you can trade that player in order to fill a spot somewhere else on the field.
Maybe it’s something that won’t matter. Cincinnati spent big last offseason to go for it. A lot of things got in the way of that and things ended in the wild card round of the playoffs. It was a season that saw no fans in the stands and teams claiming they would be losing money because of it. As a result the free agent market is about as uncertain as it’s been in a long time. A small market team like Cincinnati, who has a smaller television contract per year than most others in the league, rely on ticket sales more than some other teams do. That could mean the Reds are going to try to stay out of the market even with the potential of money coming off of the books with Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani, and Freddy Galvis hitting free agency.