Korean outfielder Hyun-soo Kim (whose name is occasionally Romanized as Hyeon-soo Kim) confirms today that he’s interesting in signing with an MLB team, Yonhap News Agency reports. (Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan had previously reported that Kim was looking to continue his career in North America.) Kim has recently been involved in the Premier 12 tournament in Tokyo. “I haven’t had a chance to set specific plans for my future because I wanted to concentrate on the Premier 12,” he says. “I will have to talk to my agent afterward, but there’s no reason to turn down interest from major league clubs. I’d love to play in the majors.” Kim has played nine seasons for the Doosan Bears, batting an excellent .318/.406/.488 in what Passan notes is a tough hitting environment by KBO standards. Kim doesn’t have the power that Byung-ho Park and Jung-ho Kang demonstrated in Korea, but he’s a terrific contact hitter. “He’s just great at putting bat on ball,” a scout told Passan. “He’s got a Royals-type offensive profile.” He’s also still just 27, and as an international free agent, he’s free to sign with any team and won’t require a posting fee.
- With Kang already having a year under his belt with the Pirates, and with Park, Ah-seop Son, Kim and Seung-hwan Oh potentially attracting interest this offseason (along with first Dae-ho Lee, a Korean first baseman who was playing in Japan), there’s no shortage of intrigue surrounding Korean players looking to join MLB teams. It’s possible that the talent in the KBO has simply improved recently, Joe Lemire of USA Today writes. But it’s also possible the increased interest is due not so much to improved talent in Korea, but to changes in the ways MLB teams are allowed to pursue talent. “There’s only so many avenues to acquire players,” says an NL executive. “With the cap on draft and international (amateur free agents), now you can go over there and acquire big league-ready players, and it doesn’t go against your spending cap.” Experts feel that about a dozen players in the KBO are capable of handling the jump to the Majors, writes Lemire.
- Many executives prefer third baseman Jae-gyun Hwang to Son, his Lotte Giants teammate, Passan writes. The problem is a rule that stipulates that a KBO team cannot accept bids on two players that have been posted in the same offseason. The bidding for Son will conclude Monday. If Lotte accept the top bid, then it risks allowing Hwang to leave as a free agent next season without collecting a posting fee for him. Son, on the other hand, is not eligible for free agency until after 2017, so Lotte might be able to maximize its earnings by rejecting the top bid for Son, taking bids on Hwang, and posting Son again next year. The team, however, earned negative publicity when it refused to allow Son to skip a road trip to be with his dying father, so it’s possible the Giants could accept Son’s bid as a way of avoiding the perception that they’re treating him unfairly.