When Bob Melvin left the team, the San Diego Union-Tribune wittily listed the “good and bad things about being the head coach in San Diego”. One of the not-so-good things was his relationship with general manager A.J. Preller, but there were also some good things.
The San Diego Union-Tribune, for example, noted that the team has some talented beasts. “They have Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr, Manny Machado, Zander Bogaerts and Ha-Sung Kim. If they can’t get Soto on a $200 million roster (meaning a trade), they can fill out the roster or continue to have a farm system that ranks in the top 10 in MLB.com’s rankings.굿모닝토토 도메인
Initially, the beasts for San Diego were Machado, a free agent acquisition from outside the organization, and Tatis Jr. who was developed in-house. In addition, the team acquired Juan Soto in a trade in 2022 and spent big money on All-Star shortstop Bogaerts ahead of the 2023 season. Many fans called it the “Four Musketeers” of San Diego, a group of talented players who represented the city. Not many eyes were on Ha-Sung Kim. In fact, Jake Cronenwirth might have been ahead of him.
However, this year’s success in both offense and defense has changed that, and the general consensus in the local media is to add Kim to the “five guns”.
On the 9th (KST), MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, had the same opinion. Looking ahead to next season, MLB.com ranked the teams based on their current rosters. MLB.com pointed out that San Diego needs to bolster its pitching staff, find a new starting catcher, and most importantly, hire a manager.
Indeed, the Padres will lose ace Blake Snell, who led the team on the mound this year, and closer Josh Hader, who was a stalwart, both of whom are eligible for free agency. Nick Martinez, Seth Lugo, and Michael Wacka are all on the market after the team picked up their options. Catcher Gary Sanchez, who was acquired in a trade, is also a free agent. There are a lot of needs on the mound and in the outfield. But the outfield remains solid. MLB.com is confident that the “big five” are at the center of it.
MLB.com says the Padres lineup has “plenty of star power at the core,” with Soto, Machado, Tatis Jr. It’s clear that Kim’s importance has grown to the point where he’s on par with the league’s superstars.
And it’s not for nothing. Just look at his Wins Above Replacement (WAR), as compiled by the statistical site FanGraphs. The best player this year was Juan Soto, who came on strong in the second half to find his form, with a WAR of 5.5. Kim, Tatis Jr. and Bogaerts rounded out the top five with a combined 4.4, followed by Machado at 3.5, who has been plagued by injuries this year and hasn’t been able to fully showcase his skills. Kim has proven that he deserves to be in the top five.
However, his salary isn’t quite as fantastic. The other four players already have or will have big, long-term contracts. Their salaries are also staggering. Machado, who signed a massive 10-year, $300 million deal when he moved to San Diego in 2019, re-signed for 11 years and $350 million before the 2023 season. He averages about $31.82 million per year.
Tatis Jr. signed a 14-year, $340 million deal ahead of the 2021 season. That averages out to about $24.29 million per year. Bogaerts signed an 11-year, $280 million deal this year. That averages out to about $25.45 million per year. Soto is not yet eligible for free agency, but he already made $23 million this year. Next year, the final year of his salary adjustment, he’ll be over $30 million, breaking Shohei Ohtani’s record for the highest salary adjustment.
While all four players make at least $24 million, Kim had a guaranteed total of $28 million on his four-year contract for the 2021 season. That’s an average of about $7 million per year, which is a lot less than the four players. It was unavoidable at the time, but Kim is also a free agent after the 2024 season. If he keeps up his offensive production this year, the Gold Glove winner could be in line for a big contract averaging $15-20 million per year. It won’t be long before his hard work is rewarded with a paycheck instead of just praise.