Texas Rangers: Why it made sense to pass on Ha-seong Kim

Seth Carlson
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 23: Outfielder Kim Ha-Seong #7 of Kiwoom Heroes bats in the bottom of the ninth inning during the KBO League game between KIA Tigers and Kiwoom Heroes at the Gocheok Skydome on August 23, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 23: Outfielder Kim Ha-Seong #7 of Kiwoom Heroes bats in the bottom of the ninth inning during the KBO League game between KIA Tigers and Kiwoom Heroes at the Gocheok Skydome on August 23, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images) /
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Many Texas Rangers fans wanted the Korean infielder, but here’s why the team made the right choice in the end.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the old saying “You can’t win ’em all.”

Well not only is it timeless and true (hence why they call it an “old saying”), but sometimes, the best moves are the ones that aren’t made.

No one is denying that KBO infielder Ha-seong Kim is a talented, five-tool player any team would covet for their roster.

But simply put, he just wasn’t a fit for the Texas Rangers‘ roster or timeline.

The 25-year-old Kim inked a contract with the San Diego Padres on Monday, according to The Athletic’s Dennis Lin, as that organization has continued a very busy period of transactions.

One could argue Kim doesn’t really fit San Diego’s roster either at first glance, as the two positions he primarily plays (shortstop and third base) are occupied by… Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado…

Only two of the best at their respective positions IN ALL OF BASEBALL.

However, when a player signs with a team like the win-now Padres, they are much more likely to sacrifice comfortability at a position for a chance to win an ever so elusive World Series title.

The Texas Rangers just couldn’t offer the 25-year-old that opportunity right now.

Rangers fans might be seething over the fact that the team’s gaping hole at second base could have been filled by the burgeoning Kim, but the truth is, Texas is better for having passed on him.

The circumstances didn’t align the way they needed to for the Texas Rangers to make a serious run at Ha-seong Kim.

First of all, where would the Rangers have played him (assuming he wouldn’t play second base for a non-contender, which seems like a pretty safe assumption to make)?

Shortstop is Kim’s natural position, currently occupied in Arlington by Gold Glover Isiah Kiner-Falefa.

Texas is quite high on Kiner-Falefa, their defensive and versatile whiz, whose bat has also emerged over the last couple of seasons.

Surely, the team wouldn’t want to deprive one of their homegrown studs of a chance to blossom.

Third base is more of an open question, as the Rangers have Elvis Andrus penciled in there for Opening Day 2021.

However, top organizational prospect Josh Jung is expected to debut in 2021, and he plays third base.

Assuming Jung pans out, that would mean Kim would eventually be supplanted there, as well.

So naturally, second base makes sense for the Korean infielder, as we pointed out earlier.

Well, the Rangers have said Nick Solak would get the chance to start there in 2021, and the team is quite eager to see what he can offer when given an opportunity for regular playing time.

Solak has shown flashes of potential with the bat in the past, and considering Texas traded a now elite reliever in Pete Fairbanks to the Tampa Bay Rays to acquire him, the team ought to try and recoup some value from that exchange.

The Rangers also have a ton of infield prospects waiting in the wings including Anderson Tejeda, Sherten Apostel, Maximo Acosta, Davis Wendzel and Justin Foscue, just to name a few.

So not only would Ha-seong Kim cost money and require at least four years on his contract, he would also create an organizational logjam for the Texas Rangers where the team actually has a surplus of prospects at all the potential positions Kim could slot into.

Additionally, as mentioned earlier, the 25-year-old simply doesn’t fit in the Rangers’ projected window of contention.

Kim would not come to MLB to switch positions for a team not expected to be a factor in the playoffs for at least a couple of seasons. He was likely willing to do so for San Diego because their chances of winning are pretty great in 2021.

Ha-seong Kim is a tremendous young talent, but he isn’t the first legitimate hitting prospect to emerge from the KBO, and he certainly won’t be the last.

With that in mind and knowing the Texas Rangers’ strong scouting presence in East Asia, there’s little doubt that when the time is right, the team will eventually strike on one of these prospects.

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