Newberg: The singular travels of Gil Kim.

Ballpark in Arlington

The Following is a contribution from Jamey Newberg of The Newberg Report:

Various reports indicate that the Blue Jays have been in contact with Yovani Gallardo this week, as they look for a reliable veteran to fit with J.A. Happ at the bottom of their rotation. Short-term memory is a factor, as the 29-year-old pitched 13.2 scoreless innings (2-0, 0.00, slash line of .136/.224/.136) against the Jays in 2015, not including his Game One win in Toronto when he gave Texas five innings of two-run ball, the final run coming in his final frame, when Russell Martin and Kevin Pillar doubles cut the score to 4-2.

They were the only extra-base hits Gallardo allowed Toronto in 69 plate appearances last year. The other eight were singles.

If Toronto signs Gallardo — or if Baltimore or Kansas City or Houston or anyone other than Texas signs him — the Rangers will be awarded a supplemental first-round pick in this year’s draft as compensation. They’re probably pulling for the Orioles, as their slot ahead of Texas in the first round would be forfeited and allow the Rangers to move up from what is now the number 20 spot. Houston drafts ahead of Texas as well, but my guess is the Rangers would prefer that Gallardo not land there. The Jays and Royals would lose a first as well, but further back in the round than where Texas sits.

In any event, if Gallardo ends up joining the Blue Jays, they’d be taking from the team that nearly eliminated them from the playoffs last year, in a sense, but Texas wouldn’t be left empty-handed.

Unlike in the case of Gil Kim.

You might not have heard of Kim before this week, but as Director of International Scouting for the Rangers the last two years, his sixth and seventh seasons in scouting with the organization, you know his work. The Blue Jays thought enough of it that they hired Kim this week as their new Director of Player Development.

Texas will get nothing in return, aside from the opportunity to promote or to add, on the heels of Kim’s departure.

And that’s how baseball works. On extremely rare occasions, high-level executives are traded, but generally speaking, when one team offers someone else’s official the opportunity to advance his career, the incumbent team doesn’t stand in the way even though it gets nothing back — not even nominal cash consideration, as when minor league players are drafted via Rule 5. The Rangers didn’t have to give anything to Pittsburgh for Jeff Banister, and they got nothing from San Diego when A.J. Preller left to become the Padres’ GM.

Kim moves on to Toronto, and on a personal level the Rangers organization is probably thrilled for the 34-year-old. Administratively, it’s a loss.

Kim’s history is fascinating. Undrafted as a high school ballplayer in Philadelphia, the 5’6”, 150-pound, switch-hitting middle infielder played one year at Middlebury College in Vermont before transferring to Vanderbilt, where in three seasons he got all of 21 at-bats.

One of which resulted in a base hit. A single.

As a sophomore, Kim played alongside outfielder Antoan Richardson, who spent most of 2015 on the Rangers’ disabled list. As a senior, his Commodore teammates included freshman David Price.

In 2006, a year after Kim graduated from Vanderbilt (with a B.A. in U.S. History), he landed an opportunity to play professionally for the Hoofddorp Pioniers, a minor league club in the Netherlands. The following spring, after spending five months volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans, Kim earned $250 a month playing for the Beijing Tigers in China. That winter, he moved on to the Western District Bulldogs in the Greater Brisbane Baseball League in Australia, working a construction job on the side to help make ends meet.

In the spring of 2008, Kim played in the Spanish National Baseball League, on a team owned by soccer monolith FC Barcelona, and that winter he took his career to Venezuela, where he played one season for Tiburones de La Guaira (though his name doesn’t show up on that club’s 2008 statistics page). He lived in the club’s locker room, sleeping on a mattress in the bathroom. He studied Spanish with the clubhouse attendants every day.

Kim’s time with La Guaira ended in November 2008. A little more than a month later, he had a baseball operations internship with the Pirates.

That lasted three months. The Rangers hired Kim away from Pittsburgh in March of 2009, offering him an opportunity to scout for the club in Mexico, and later in the Dominican Republic, before moving him into leadership roles in the club’s effort scouting ballplayers internationally.

And now, after “[running] one of the top international scouting programs” in baseball (in the words of Baseball America’s Ben Badler), Kim is now working in yet another country, settling in as the Blue Jays’ farm director. It’s a similar career progression to that of Rangers’ Senior Director of Player Development Mike Daly, who before being promoted was the Rangers’ Director of International Scouting from 2010 to 2013 — after which Kim assumed that post.

Toronto envisions Kim overseeing an organizational effort to help Jays minor league players “creat[e] and realiz[e] their physical, mental, and fundamental goals.” It’s part of what he did here, and if and when Venezuelan shortstop Yeyson Yrizarri and Nicaraguan catcher Melvin Novoa and Dominican outfielder Jose Almonte refine their particularly high upsides to the point at which they get to the big leagues, you’ll hear that Kim played a big role in putting Rangers uniforms on those teenagers in the first place.

Kim’s tremendous work in Texas probably never put him on a path that crossed with Gallardo. Maybe they’ll end up in Toronto together, maybe not. The Rangers can’t prevent the righthander from signing with the Jays — short of re-signing him themselves — and the truth is they’re just hopeful that he gets a big league deal somewhere (he will), because it will add a premium draft pick to the inventory in Texas as a result.

There’s no such compensation when you lose a frontline baseball operations official, and while there are positives — a tremendous reflection not only on Kim (who is younger than Adrian Beltre and Colby Lewis, a little older than Chris Gimenez) and his impressive rise in the game but also on the Texas organization and its ability to develop people off the field just as it does between the lines — the Rangers’ loss in this case is the Blue Jays’ gain.

Slow clap for the Rangers, for finding Kim and developing the man. Slow clap for the Jays, for this week’s hire.

Slow clap for Gil Kim, who has quite clearly paid his dues, and continues to earn new opportunities.


The Newberg Report provides daily coverage of the Texas Rangers. You can follow Jamey Newberg on twitter @NewbergReport