The moment the A's season ended in disappointing fashion when they lost to the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series, there was one question that popped into everyone's mind: Was this Marcus Semien's final game with the team?
That's exactly what the shortstop wondered, and the question remains unsolved early into what is expected to be a slow offseason for every MLB team. The A's desperately hope the Bay Area native stays in Oakland, but it's never that easy with this organization. He might be too expensive on the open market or simply could find a situation that fits him better in free agency.
If Semien's time in Oakland is up, there's an international option that could be an interesting move for the A's. ESPN's David Schoenfield predicted moves for all 30 MLB teams this offseason, and along with signing second baseman Kolten Wong to a one-year deal, Schoenfield also has the A's adding shortstop Ha-Seong Kim.
So, who's Ha-Seong Kim? Let's look at the 25-year-old shortstop and what he could bring to the A's.
Kim turned pro in the Korean Baseball Organization at 18 years old as has got better and better nearly every year. He's only 5-foot-9 but has both speed and power and won the KBO League Golden Glove Award in 2019. This season was his best yet, batting .308 with 30 home runs, 23 stolen bases and a .926 OPS at 24 years old. Kim is a .294 career hitter in the KBO, has averaged 22 home runs since his second year as a pro and is a very successful base stealer.
Shortstops don't hit free agency in their prime like this. Kim is five years younger than Semien, who is coming off a down year. He very well could be the best shortstop on the open market, ahead of Semien, Didi Gregorious and Andrelton Simmons.
It's known that the KBO isn't the same level as the major leagues or NPB. Many evaluators estimate the level of play is high Double-A or Triple-A, but that doesn't mean every player in the KBO is stuck at that rate of play. Kim has mastered the KBO and he's ready to make the leap. He has shown an interest in coming to the majors since last year, and proved his game is up to the challenge by having an eye-opening season.
Players at this age who play a premium position aren't available that often. MLB Trade Rumors rank Kim as their seventh-best free agent this offseason. They also predict he will sign a five-year, $40 million contract with the Texas Rangers. For his age and skill set, that's a steal.
The A's will do what they can to bring back Semien, they've made that loud and clear. Free agency isn't that simple, though, especially in Oakland. If Semien's time wearing an A's jersey is done, Kim would be a great next option.