There’s been a lot of rumors surrounding the Cincinnati Reds this offseason, but one thing that’s not a rumor as much as a confirmed fact is that the organization is looking to add a shortstop in either free agency or via trade. After using a combination of Freddy Galvis, who is now a free agent, and Jose Garcia who seemed to be a bit over his head offensively as he jumped over both Double-A and Triple-A. While the organization still believes that Garcia will be capable of hitting in the future at the big league level, for now they think it’s probably better to get him some time in the minors at the upper levels and bring someone else in for the 2021 season if possible.

One of the bigger names in free agency on the shortstop market is Korean shortstop Ha-seong Kim. He was posted by his organization on December 1st, which means that things will come to a close at January 1st according to ESPN’s KBO Insider Daniel Kim. That’s an interesting twist given that in November, MLB Trade Rumors noted that the new rules between MLB and the KBO had removed the 30-day window.

The market for shortstops this offseason is deep. Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, and Marcus Semien are all there at the top of the free agent class. Shortstops Francisco Lindor and Trevor Story are both also rumored to be on the trade market. All of those players have proven big league abilities, unlike Ha-seong Kim, but they also are all older than the Korean shortstop, too.

The 25-year-old has played in the KBO since the 2014 season when he was 18-years-old. That first year he only played sparringly, getting just 59 plate appearances, but beginning in 2015 he’s played a full season every year and posted an OPS over .830 every season since. Last year the then 24-year-old hit .306/.397/.523 with more walks than strikeouts, 30 home runs, 24 doubles, and 23 stolen bases in 138 games played for the Kiwoom Heroes.

MLB Trade Rumors projected a 5-year deal and $40M for Ha-seong Kim. ESPN’s Daniel Kim reported on Christmas eve that there are “several offers in the 5+ year range” for the shortstop. If Cincinnati is going to get into that range, it’s certainly going to alter some of the perceived current plans. Kim has some experience at second base, third base, and shortstop in his career. All of those spots are either locked down long term, or have one of the organization’s top prospects at it (and sometimes both).

Of course, having too many good options is never a problem. Players can be traded for help in areas that there isn’t multiple other options. A signing of a shortstop would certainly change things for the organization for a lot of players, at least potentially. Prospects Jonathan India, who has played both second and third base, and Jose Garcia could be left on the outside looking in. For India, he may already be there with both Eugenio Suárez and Mike Moustakas entrenched at second and third base. But if Garcia is also pushed off of shortstop, that potentially puts him in that same second/third base depth and could push India further down the depth chart.

As we’ve previously talked about, ZiPS projections are quite strong for Ha-seong Kim. From 2021-2025 he’s projected to be a 3.5-3.9 WAR player that hits .270’ish with 24 homers and a solid number of stolen bases. There’s obviously risk involved in a longer term deal here, even if ZiPS translations and projections are favorable, because you don’t really have the kind of data on Kim that you have on proven big leaguers, and compared to other “prospects”, the cost is quite a bit higher from a monetary standpoint. Because of that price, there is some high risk, but also some high reward with this deal.

Assuming MLB Trade Rumors $40M price tag is right, and if Kim were to perform up to the ZiPS projections, he’d be an absolute bargain. But if he were to struggle to perform, a team would be on the hook for a solid amount of money, too.

56 Responses

  1. doofus

    A Kim signing would spoil the Queen City Faithful, we cannot have that.

  2. DataDumpster

    The Reds need a shortstop badly and the choices available have been plentiful and apparent for a long time (from Jose Iglesias onward). However, a decision is always difficult and many of the candidates probably rate closely on the analytics numbers game.

    The decision now comes down to the personalities, fit to the team and intangibles that a player has to bring that demonstrates his integrity, work ethic, leadership, etc. It also has to be considered how the recent salary dump talk affects the situation in that most players like to win (or get a big gift like Moose and Castellanos.)

    It is unfortunate that the David Bell regime has not demonstrated any skill in recognizing these traits or even his own skills (if any) at motivating players to perform at least to baseline expectation and discipline.

    • c w Lackey

      Judging by the Reds trading or signing for a player they really need such as. Top SS. If Reds do sign a top SS he will not pan out. Reds just are not lucky in that manner. I wish Reds the Reds all the Best of luck for any moves they make. Oh well. Got to have a SS, at least 1 starting pitcher, a closer, keep Stpehensen #1 starting catcher, trade Barnhart, need at least 1 very good outfielder….etc….
      Start looking, pick wise, sign wiser GO REDS FOR 2021.

  3. Rut

    There is literally nothing that makes me think this signing is even possible for the Reds given the current constant rumors of more salary dumps than the guest bathroom at a 20 person Thanksgiving dinner.

    Not to go all Jim Carrey, but I think a better analysis here would be “So you’re telling me I have a chance”?

    • LB

      The odds are still low, but the part that Doug left out is that when Daniel Kim tweeted the news that Ha-seong Kim had “several” 5 year offers, the graphic he tweeted included six teams…with the Reds being one of them (and given the other teams, it wasn’t simply teams who conceivably need a SS).

      So it appears they’re at least in the game here. Also, from looking at the other teams (Red Sox, Blue Jays, Padres, Cardinals, Rangers), if Kim wants to play SS every day immediately, the Reds would be his best option.

      • Doug Gray

        The graphic makes no sense. The Padres are listed on it and in no way, shape, or form, are they looking for a SS/2B/3B. That’s why I didn’t mention that part of it.

      • LB

        @Doug, not entirely sure why I can’t reply to your reply, but yeah the Padres are absolutely a curious fit. However they were also included in the Korean report preceding Daniel Kim’s, so it’s tough to say.

        It’s quite possible that they see Cronenworth as a utility piece rather than a guy who is an everyday starter (and I don’t believe they have other apparent 2B options at the moment). After all, Cronenworth was an old, unremarkable prospect who had a horrendous September. There are reasons to like him, but perhaps the Padres aren’t sold. And besides, they’re never shy when it comes to adding talent.

  4. Jack

    Kim is not looking for a one year deal so signing him means Garcia is not the future at shortstop. At 40 million for 5 years that would be cheap for a starting shortstop, not MLB minimum cheap but you get what you pay for. If rumors are true they are trying to move Moustakas perhaps they envision either Kim or Garcia moving to 2B.

    • LB

      I would argue that it means no such thing. Kim has experience at 3B and can almost certainly play 2B. Votto probably doesn’t have too long left in the field, and Garcia most likely won’t be ready at any point in 2021. So no problems in 2021, then whenever Garcia is ready (when the DH is a near-certainty) you move Kim to 2B, Moose to 1B, and Votto to DH.

      As Doug put it, having too many good players is never really a problem, as long as you’re not overpaying someone to warm the bench

  5. Still a Red

    Sign him. 2021 is his, make Garcia compete in 2022. If Kim turns out to be meh, or league avg and Garcia promises better, trade Kim. If Kim lives up to his projection, trade Garcia. Or, LB above has a pretty solid solution.

  6. Roger Garrett

    Pass on this guy and put Garcia at short and lets move on.Amazing to me you have to be 24 or 25 years old to play for the Reds.So what that Garcia struggled to hit last year.Did you see the rest of our team?Tucker is back again for what seems like 10 years now and he still can’t hit.Silly that we had to move Senzel to the outfield and now we are discussing where to play Garcia and or India because they are blocked by guys over 30 years old in Suarez and Moose.Seriously?

    • Frankie Tomatoes

      Tucker Barnhart had an OPS nearly 300 points higher than what Garcia did. The team as a whole had an OPS 315 points higher than Garcia did. Geno is 28. He is not over 30.

      • Florida fan

        Frankie, garcia had 68 at bats in crunch time september. Not a fair comparison for a young talent.

      • Frankie Tomatoes

        The point was that you can’t complain about Tucker Barnhart not hitting and follow it up saying “just play Garcia” who hit infinite worse.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Installing a guy who struggled as much as Garcia did last year offensively as an everyday starter would be, to me, flying the white flag of surrender to the rest of the division before the season even starts. Not only that, but you run the risk of crushing his confidence and his future potential by not letting him develop properly in the minors.

      With the salary the Reds have cleared so far, a five-year, $40-million deal for Kim would seem to work, especially if backloaded. But I have this cartoon-like vision of Castellini’s very large shadow looming over every move and thought that Krall makes, ensuring that the GM doesn’t spend a penny more than the budget parameters he has been assigned — no matter how advantageous it might be for the team.

      • Mark Moore

        The players who can make the leap that early are truly rare. Small sample, but what I saw said he’s not quite ready yet.

      • doofus

        “But I have this cartoon-like vision of Castellini’s very large shadow looming over every move and thought that Krall makes,…”

        Abominable Bob.

      • Roger Garrett

        I respect your opinion but throwing up the white flag or crushing a players’ confidence is a little much for me.The Reds throw players under the bus or anoint them almost daily.If Garcia had hit 240 we wouldn’t even be discussing him but would be praising him to the highest and he had how many at bats last year?Reds don’t know what they have got with some guys cause they never get a chance and others as I mentioned just seem to hang around forever.

  7. MBS

    Kim has been my #1 choice in the FA market. Please sign him today! Before last spring training I always thought of Garcia as a utility man. I think we all got caught up in the hype. Let Garcia continue to develop. He’s probably 2 years away. A lot can happen with a team in 2 years.

  8. Ron

    Kim for 5 years or Gregorius for 3 years. This is the best two options for the Reds IMO.

    Simmons or Semien not likely.

    Lindor or Story would help tremendously, but that’s the longest of long shots.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Simmons would be similar to the second coming of Jose Iglesias. Fantastic defense, subpar bat. Iglesias’ career OPS+ is 88, Simmons’ is 91. Essentially the same player. Emphasis these days seems to be more on the offensive capabilities of shortstops such as Gregorius (career OPS+ of 100), Semien (105), Lindor (117) and Story (114).

  9. RedBaron

    Koreans hitters from the KBO worry me. I don’t believe there is a single Korean born hitter from the KBO that has had more than a couple years of success in MLB (Jun Ho Kang had 2 good years and Shin Soo Choo doesn’t count as he never played in the KBO). The KBO is definitely a significant step down from Japan so it’s hard to project how that would translate to the MLB. Taking about .100-150 or so off the OPS is probably a good place to start.

    Byung Ho-Park should a be a cautionary tale as someone who posted a Ruthian .1100+OPS in the KBO for 3 years before coming the MLB in his prime at 28 barely lasted 1 season at the MLB level.

    That being said this guy is young enough and a “supposedly” a good enough defender that I wouldn’t be upset if we signed him over say DiDi, especially for $5M less a year. I wouldn’t pay more than $5-6M for him for no more than 3 years. I don’t think there is any chance he gets 5 yrs for $40M as MLBTraderumors has projected.

  10. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I like the idea of getting Kim, myself. I like his history he’s had of getting on base. Where, with his background and upbringing and, odds are, work ethic he has, even if he doesn’t keep up the OBP at first over here, I believe he’s going to work on it to get it up to what he’s use to.

    And, that’s who we need, batters to get on base.

    Don’t get me wrong. I would love to see Lindor and Story, but I don’t believe we have enough to trade for them. And, I only go after them if we can get them to an extention. And, Didi is a proven commodity, but a proven commodity on his downward side, I believe. Any other SS’s, I don’t believe they have the offensive game we need. We have the HR’s. We need the OBP.

    • Melvin

      “We have the HR’s. We need the OBP.” – Correct

      We need hitters. Not just sluggers.

    • MBS

      I’m a fan, he’d fill in a big gap in our lineup as the #2 hitter.

      1 L CF Shogo .357 OBP Guy (OBP 2020 #’s)
      2 R SS Kim *.397* OBP /Power Guy *KOB #’s*
      3 L LF Winker .388 OBP / Power Guy
      4 R 3B Suarez .312 Power Guy
      5 L 2B Moustakes .331 Power Guy
      6 R RF Castellanos .298 Power Guy
      7 L 1B Votto .354 Old Guy
      8 R C Stephenson *.400* too small of a sample size
      UTILITY Senzel .247

  11. west larry

    I like Kim, but I just can’t see this club forking up 40 million over fife years. I hope that I’m wrong.

    • doofus

      How do you know for sure that Senzel will not play on the dirt? If he is traded, his new team may play him at an infield position.

      Suarez or Moustakas, maybe both are traded, who says that Senzel does not play 2B or 3B, you?

      I believe the people do not believe what you say!

  12. CI3J

    I do not, and never did, think the Reds were serious about Kim. He’s too expensive for a small market team to take a chance on (and yes, as great as his stats are in Korea, it’s still a big risk as to how that would translate to the U.S..

    So forget about it. It’s not happening.

    • MBS

      The Reds are down right now around + 29M over last years (pre Covid) opening days roster. If the term “reallocating” wasn’t BS they could easily add Kim. They would still be saving + 20M over last season.

      Krall has said SS is a (the) priority this offseason. So I don’t think the questions is, is signing Kim possible, but is Kim the guy.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        I mean, if Kim isn’t the guy, then who is? Going by your logic, CI3J, then the only one that would fit would be Jose Garcia. And, we all saw he’s not ready for the big time.

        If we go after many of the FA’s like Didi, we are going to be paying more. For the cost of what we would put toward Garcia, we might as well put Garcia in there.

  13. Lee withers

    Been a Reds fan since my dad took me to see my first big league game at Crosley Field. Witnessed mostly mediocrity but also a few memorable years (Sparkey where are U)? Baseball viewership continues to tumble – and attendance is financially unrealistic for a family of four. I’d recommended going to a Dayton Dragons game but always sold out. It’s obvious the Cincinnati Reds will never see a new owner -or group- able/willing to spend the type of money necessary to compete. Time to say goodbye. Just maybe a large market town will be willing to “ Step up to the plate” and allow the Reds legacy to prosper. See the Bengals future as bleak.

  14. TR

    Jose Garcia is coming up on his age 23 season. When he was signed the word out of Cuba was Garcia was an excellent fielder but there was a question at that time if he could hit ML pitching. I think the Reds know that hitting .250 will be a reach for him in the majors and he’s best suited as a defensive backup infielder. If the Reds can keep their starting pitching intact minus Bauer, pick up a shortstop who can hit, then their chance of taking the NL Central is as good as any.

  15. gusnwally

    TR, I agree with you completely. Keep all the top pitchers. sign DiDi and do not take a chance on a Korean maybe. for 40 mill. Didi wont be fabulous but I think we know he can play a decent SS and hit a respectable figure. With a bit of power to boot. I constantly see people on here wanting to trade Suarez. How about getting a player or two to get on base. His 40 HR’s would look a lot different if someone could get on base with some regularity.

    • TR

      Yes, homeruns are exciting for the moment, but what really upsets the opposing pitcher are runners on base and hitters who can get them in from scoring position. If the Reds can do that, with their current starting pitching, they’ll be competitive this season.

  16. Ron

    I definitely think the Reds should hang on to Gray and Castillo. They already have one spot to fill in the rotation with Bauer leaving.

    They should trade Barnhart ( 4 mil) and restructure Votto’s contract (12.5 over 6 years, instead of 25 over 3).

    Then go out and sign a shortstop and maybe a starting pitcher like Taijuan Walker on a one year deal.

  17. donny

    For me, ”i feel that there is no way the reds can beat the Dodgers, Padres, Braves.” Who are only getting better”. Even more so when Bauer is gone.

    I don’t believe in luck that anything can happen in the playoffs.

    TRADE them all and get the prospects.

    Wait for the Votto contract is over and some of the reds prospects are in the big leagues for a year.

    That is my reality………………..

    • donny

      While in the process of trading all of our players and getting good prospects.
      Use that money saved to buy out Votto’s remaining contract so there is no more hurdle to overcome in building a winning team again.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      If we aren’t going to beat them, why do anything?

  18. MK

    To think Kim can come in and be Major league ready is a little far fetched. I watched every game ESPN broadcast of the KBO. From an offensive standpoint he hit against defense the would be AA level at best. Much of the time that would be highly complimentary. The starting pitching would be Low AAA level. The average fast ball was in high 80’s The relief pitching much worse than starters. The best pitchers were imports, except for a couple, and none pitched in relief.
    Defensively I’d put Kim on par with Galvis.
    He is young and lols to have the ability to improve and become a plus player. To expect him to come in and be an immediate impact or even consistent major leaguer is a little foolish.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      No one would expect someone like Kim to be an immediate impact player like Lindor or Story. That would be unrealistic of any youngster, period.

      • MK

        If not getting an immediate impact shortstop then play Alf Rod and wait on Garcia.

      • Doug Gray

        Just talking this out loud here – but the Reds have been saying now that they “knew” Garcia wasn’t ready to hit this year, but the defense was ready so they called him up anyways.

        If they had any faith in Rodriguez, why wouldn’t they have just called him up instead, if they had no belief that Garcia would hit?

      • MBS

        Because Garcia was killing it in spring training, and everyone was hyped up about him. MK is right, if the Reds don’t sign an “impact” SS then Rodriguez makes sense. His glove should play here, and if Garcia truly isn’t ready for the MLB why not let him develop another year or 2 until he is. Rodriguez has faced tougher pitching, going from AA to AAA in 19.

  19. Kevin Patrick

    I would be very pleased if the Reds could land a shortstop like this because of the potential upside. Is this guy a spray to all fields kind of hitter? I wonder if the Reds are taking an organizational approach where there is greater value placed upon this type of hitter as a counter to the shift. I know Akiyama hits best spraying the ball. I even think Senzel has a bit of an all fields approach… certainly more so than several other Reds players. Regardless, as often as the Reds defensively use the shift, I have to wonder whether it would make financial sense to just have Farmer play short and utilize their available cash on one more good starting pitcher. I think the Reds could be overestimating the potential their current group of starters have… and that’s no knock on anyone in particular… I just look at an arm like Miley and wonder if he can be counted on. Will Castillo stay hot all year or will he have a cold stretch where he can’t locate? Lorenzen? Antone? Find me a good starter first…

    • Matt

      Farmer isn’t a SS, He’s a C/1B. That’s a MAJOR stretch to just throw Farmer out there at SS. They NEED to bring someone in… Worst case scenario is MAYBE Senzel COULD transition to play SS for next season, but that is also a stretch, just throwing out a worst case scenario. I would hands down rather put Senzel at SS rather than even thinking of Farmer at SS, just my opinion. Farmer is better suited playing C/1B/3B. I have NO clue what this Korean guy could maybe do in the MLB, that being said, I say go after Gregorious… You can probably hit him 2nd in the lineup as well. Unless they could get a HAUL back, and I mean a REAL HAUL back for either Gray or Castillo, don’t trade them! Gray has I believe 2 years left PLUS team option for the 3rd year. That’s 3 years of team control! Castillo should be untouchable IMO.

      • Mark Moore

        Senzel at SS was tried and failed. Farmer is a better option based on where they’ve both played the past couple seasons.

        That being said, we need to go outside the organization for 2+ years if we want a solid ML SS. Period.

  20. MK

    Snell to Padres for prospects. That should lessen their interest in Gray and Castillo.

    • Mark Moore

      MLBTR has them sniffing at Darvish as well. Plus they ended up signing Kim as noted.

    • TR

      The Padres are loading up but that team is probably more frustrating to be a fan of than to be a Reds fan.

  21. TXRedLeg

    Now that he has signed somewhere else can we stop the delusion that the Reds are going to drop a bunch of money on a SS when they’re trading off anyone of talent with a contract anywhere above league minimum?

    • MBS

      Then why didn’t the Reds trade Gray, or Castillo to the Padres? The Padres are completing a deal with the Cubs for Darvish. The Padres also completed a deal for Snell today. If the Reds just wanted a salary dump, Gray and or Castillo would be gone.

      Clearly they are only willing to trade Gray or Castillo if the return is good. It makes me feel better about the direction the Reds are heading.