Phillies should sign Ha-Seong Kim to replace Didi Gregorius

Ha-Seong Kim #7 of Kiwoom Heroes (Photo by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)
Ha-Seong Kim #7 of Kiwoom Heroes (Photo by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images) /

The Phillies should consider signing Ha-Seong Kim to replace Didi Gregorius.

As each day passes in the Philadelphia Phillies offseason, the odds of the team re-signing both catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Didi Gregorius for the 2021 season seem slimmer and slimmer.

The latter player, in particular, was among the most productive Phillies shortstops since the days of franchise hits leader Jimmy Rollins. Playing all 60 games, Gregorious slashed .284/.339/.488 with 10 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, 40 RBI, 15 walks, and just 28 strikeouts spanning 237 plate appearances.

Similar to what the Phillies proposed to Realmuto, the Phillies could have offered Gregorius a one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer (but they did not). Even if the nine-year veteran rejected the offer — as did Realmuto — the organization would have received draft pick compensation if he signed elsewhere.

Now, Gregorius will likely do just that; and, by him leaving, the Phillies would have two options to choose from — sticking with an infield combination of Alec Bohm, Scott Kingery, Jean Segura, and Rhys Hoskins — or signing a free-agent.

While Andrelton Simmons and Marcus Semien are options, there is another free-agent the Phillies could possibly sign that has more talent than them and Gregorius — Ha-Seong Kim.

A seven-year Korea Baseball Organization veteran, Kim is expected to be posted and available to negotiate with Major League Baseball teams shortly after Thanksgiving, according to ESPN.

Through 891 career games overseas, the highly regarded 25-year-old has slashed .294/.373/.493 with 191 doubles, 23 triples, 133 home runs, and 575 RBI, all the while walking 381 times while striking out just 502 times in 3,664 plate appearances.

Kim has mostly played shortstop in his KBO career, but also has experience playing at the hot corner. The South Korea native committed 14 errors in 743 innings and 382 chances this season at short. Therefore, Kim would be a downgrade from Gregorius in the field, but his bat would likely make up the difference; he slugged a career-high 30 home runs across 138 games in 2020 with the Kiwoom Heroes.

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MLB Trade Rumors predicts Kim will sign a five-year, $40 million major league deal — in other words, an $8 million average annual value. The Phillies would be rolling the dice signing him, as the success of most KBO players typically does not translate over well to MLB, however, signing him would be a much cheaper alternative than trying to bring back Gregorius.

The Phillies have also been linked to Francisco Lindor in trade rumors, but they would essentially have to empty their already-depleted farm system to come close to intrigue the Cleveland Indians.

And, money saved from the Phillies signing Kim rather than Gregorius could be used to improve other areas of the 26-man roster, the bullpen, in particular.

The offseason is still young, but it has become more apparent the Phillies will need to think outside the box if they want to jump any of their National League East rivals next season. Signing Kim would be a great first step at doing that.

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