Choi Ji-Man (32) will play for the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball (MLB) alongside Kim Ha-Sung (27).
“San Diego acquired left-handed pitcher Rich Hill and first baseman Ji-Man Choi at the trade deadline,” MLB.com reported on Feb. 2.
The Padres received veterans Choi and Hill from the Pittsburgh Pirates and sent three prospects: left-handed pitcher Zack Wolf, outfielder Estuar Sueiro, and first baseman Alfonso Rivas.
The trade took Korean baseball fans by surprise.
Bae Ji-hwan and Choi Ji-man, who played in Pittsburgh, will spend the rest of the season with Kim.
After making his big league debut with the Los Angeles Angels in 2016, Choi has played for the New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, Tampa Bay Rays, and Pittsburgh before landing in San Diego. San Diego is Choi’s sixth big league team.
Prior to his big league debut, Choi played in the minors for the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles. San Diego is the eighth team he has played for in his entire career in the United States.
Choi injured his left Achilles tendon in April of this year and was sidelined for nearly three months before returning to the big leagues on July 8. He is batting just .205 with six home runs and 11 RBIs this season, but has regained his power, hitting four home runs in his last eight starts.
“San Diego wanted a left-handed slugger,” said MLB.com, “and Choi will start at designated hitter when the opposition is facing a right-handed starter and pinch-hit when a left-handed pitcher is on the mound.”
“He will be the first Korean hitter to play in the World Series, a game that Kim Ha-seong, now a teammate, is eager to play in.”
Choi actually became the first Korean to play in the World Series in 2020 when he played for Tampa Bay.
San Diego’s star-studded roster is in fourth place in the National League West and seventh in the wild card this year.
They are five games out of the third wild-card spot in the National League, which would give them a postseason berth.
While the gap is quite large, the Padres have shown their intent to make a run at the postseason by trading away three top prospects and acquiring two veterans.
Rich Hill, who came to San Diego with Choi, is the oldest player in the majors at 2023.
Both Choi and Hill are eligible for free agency after this season.
“San Diego has been a ‘buyer’ in the trade market, acquiring a left-handed bat and starting pitching,” MLB.com wrote, “and for now, it has succeeded in addressing some of the team’s weaknesses this season.”
One of the few bright spots in San Diego’s struggles this season has been Ha-Sung Kim. In addition to being one of the best defenders in the big leagues, Kim has been a force at the plate, batting .279 with 14 home runs, 39 RBIs, and an OPS of .822 through Day 1.
San Diego hopes that the newly formed “San Diego Korean Duo” of Kim Ha-seong and Choi Ji-man will be the engine that propels the team into the postseason. 먹튀검증