DEC. 30: Sung Min Kim of River Ave. Blues reports (via Twitter) that Kim will earn $2.8MM in 2016 and $4.2MM in 2017. His contract allows him to become a free agent upon completion (as opposed to arbitration eligibility) and also stipulates that he cannot be assigned to the minor leagues.
DEC. 23: Baltimore has announced the signing.
DEC. 16: The Orioles have agreed to sign Korean outfielder Hyun-soo Kim, Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun tweets. The deal, worth $7MM over two years (link), is pending a medical review. Kim, he adds (link), is on his way to Baltimore from Korea tonight.
Kim, who’ll soon turn 28, just reached free agent eligibility after nine seasons with the KBO’s Doosan Bears. He reportedly received offers from multiple MLB clubs, though Baltimore was the first club known to make an offer. The Orioles have long been said to be looking for one or more outfielders, and the $7MM commitment suggests that Kim will slot into at least a semi-regular role. Baltimore utilized a variety of platoon options in the corner last year, but Kim would “likely” feature in left if signed, Connolly said earlier this week.
Kim has put up a big .318/.406/.488 slash in the offensively robust KBO, and last year had his best-ever showing. Not only did he slash .326/.438/.541, but Kim also banged a career-best 28 home runs. But Kim’s real calling card is in the on-base arena. Unlike some other KBO players who have moved over to MLB (or have shown interest in doing so), Kim is a master of plate discipline. Last year, he struck out only 63 times while drawing 101 free passes.
At $3.5MM per season, Kim will be earning less than many had expected him to earlier this offseason. At one point,Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports suggested that Kim could get paid “toward the top of the next tier of corner outfielders” behind the four major free agents. Kim’s market didn’t unfold quite that way, but he did get a decent payday from Baltimore. If Kim succeeds over the next two seasons, he could see a salary increase as he tries the market again before his 30th birthday.