Should the St. Louis Cardinals extend Kwang Hyun Kim?
In his first season with the St. Louis Cardinals, Kwang Hyun Kim exceeded expectations. Should the Cardinals sign it for a few more seasons?
It’s becoming a tradition for the St. Louis Cardinals. In the past, it was common for the team to sign a player for extra time in or around spring training. If the cardinals continue this pattern, one possible option is the Kwang Hyun Kim pitcher.
Kim was signed in December 2019 and was originally brought up as closer to the Cardinals. He recorded a save in his first game, but when the team’s depth was tested after the COVID-19 outbreak, Kim earned a role in the starting rotation. He finished the season as a reliable arm in the rotation, finishing the game 3-0 with 1.62 ERA in eight games (seven starts).
32-year-old Kim is leaving his first MLB season. There are several reasons to be skeptical about a contract renewal. First, the comparison could be made with fellow rotation member Miles Mikolas.
Mikolas had an excellent first season with the Cardinals after returning to MLB after pitching in Korea (he had previously played for the Padres and Rangers). In his 2018 season he set an 18: 4 record with 2.83 ERA. He led the league in victories and had a dazzling season. After that season he received a four-year contract extension with the Cardinals. As some should have expected, it has regressed – quite a lot, actually. He went from leading the National League when winning to leading the NL when losing at 14 in 2019. His ERA rose to 4.16.
In 2020, he missed the entire season with surgery on Tommy John. There is still time to turn things around and get back to something that is close to his 2018 self, but so far this contract has not been good for the Cardinals.
Give Kim. Like Mikolas, he had a brilliant first season with the club. But what if the teams read it better in the sophomore year? Teams can update their scouting reports after seeing him in major leagues for a season. One thing in Kim’s corner is that his 2020 season only consisted of eight games, so not a huge sample. That means less opportunity for teams to get a good overview.
Another positive aspect of a potential Kim expansion is that he might not be looking for a long-term deal. Would a two- or three-year contract make sense? In a starting rotation that could potentially lose 3/5 of its pitchers (Wainwright, Kim and Martinez) after the 2021 season due to expiring contracts, Kim’s flexibility would be retained for a few more seasons.
I don’t know what Kim would be looking for in a new business or if the Cardinals would be interested in a contract renewal. They may want to keep options open so they can move into the next off-season, with some rotation points open to pursue external options while creating a competition for aspiring young pitching prospects. I like this idea. I also think it would be a smart idea to keep Kwang Hyun Kim for a few more seasons if a deal has to be made.