What are the Orioles getting in Hyun-soo Kim?
The only position player signed by the Orioles so far this offseason has been Korean outfielder Hyun-soo Kim. Kim has a reputation as a great contact hitter. In Korea, he batted .318/.406/.488 and did hit 28 home runs in his final season with the Doosan Bears. The Orioles found success with Asian imports like Koji Uehara and Wei-Yin Chen, but also flopped in a big way with Tsuyoshi Wada. A Korean outfielder like Kim is a bit of a gamble, but he is signed for only $7 million over two years.
The track record for Korean hitters transitioning to the MLB ranks is rather limited. The KBO is extremely friendly to hitters. Kim’s power numbers are difficult to project, but his ability to put bat on ball and draw walks should translate to any league. If the Orioles can slot Kim in left field and get a .275/.375/.425 line out of him, that will be a great return on investment and a huge upgrade over last year’s collection of left fielders. If Kim struggles, there are plenty of internal options to take his place. Overall, signing the soon-to-be 28-year-old outfielder to a low-cost contract is a bet that should pay off positively for the Orioles.