After some late-spring drama, Korean outfielder Hyun Soo Kim will be on the Orioles Opening Day roster, reports Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com. Baltimore signed Kim to a two-year, $7MM contract over the offseason. The deal included a provision that allowed Kim to refuse an assignment to the minors.
After hitting just .178/.224/.178 in 45 spring plate appearances, the Orioles reportedly believed it was best for Kim’s development to start the year in the minors. Kim’s Korea-based agency announced earlier last week that he would not accept an assignment to the minor. Per executive VP Dan Duquette, “we asked for his consent because we thought that was the best way to prepare him. He needed more time in the transition and, so, he didn’t see it that way.”
The team actually has need of a left-handed hitting backup outfielder so Kim can still fill a valuable role. It’s important to remember that a bad March does not necessarily portend an equally rough season – especially for an overseas player who may be experiencing culture shock. Kim is coming off a strong season in the KBO – .326/.438/.541 with 28 home runs and 38 more walks than strikeouts.
For his part, Kim is grateful for the opportunity, writes Rich Dubroff of CSN Mid-Atlantic. Speakings through a translator, he said “I’m very happy to be on the roster and I will try my best to make it up to the coaching staff and organization.”