Orioles sign Korean outfielder Kim
Left-handed hitter lands 2-year, $7 million contract
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles officially signed outfielder Hyun Soo Kim to a two-year, $7 million contract Wednesday, giving the club a solid addition right before the Christmas holiday.
Kim, who turns 28 in January, was a free agent after spending nine seasons with the Doosan Bears in the Korea Baseball Organization. He received offers from several Major League clubs, but through a translator said the Orioles had "great interest" in him and ultimately it was the right fit.
Kim is a career .318/.406/.488 hitter in the KBO, and he's coming off an impressive campaign in which he hit .326/.438/.541 with a career-high 28 home runs.
"His durability is one of the key positive traits that he has," Baltimore executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said in a release. "He's been able to play 98 percent of his games over a 10-year period in Korea. Nicknamed the 'Iron Man' in Korea, that of course has some good transferability to the Orioles franchise with Cal Ripken's durability over the years, but in Kim's own light, he's been a very dependable player for his club. He signed when he was young, just out of high school. He distinguished himself as the top high school hitter in Korea and he has distinguished himself every year in Korean baseball by hitting over .300."
A 6-foot-2, 214-pound left-handed hitter, Kim is also known as a patient hitter with a great eye; last season, he drew 101 walks while striking out only 63 times.
"He's had over a .400 on-base percentage a couple of times in Korea and he's led his league, and he's also led the league in batting and won the Gold Glove a couple of times in Korea," Duquette said. "All those skills are going to be very helpful in this ballpark, but the best thing that I've seen him do is he hits the ball the other way. He waits on the ball and he hits down on the fastball and that should translate to a lot of home runs at this ballpark [in Baltimore]."
Kim, speaking through translator Yeirang Esther Lee, said he's "very eager" to play Major League Baseball, something he has been a big fan of since he was a kid.
As for if his skills would translate to the Majors, Kim said: "To be honest, I don't know how it's going to translate to American baseball, but I think that it's going to be OK. And also I will try my best to perform as well as I did in Korea."
Kim could play either corner outfield spot, and the O's are looking to add another outfielder -- preferably a left-handed bat -- to the mix before the season.
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie
If Kim can transfer his stellar plate discipline and contact skills from the hitter-friendly KBO, he will likely impact deep mixed leagues during 2016. Kim owns a lifetime .318 average and .406 on-base percentage overseas, but he exceeded the 20-homer mark in just one of the past five campaigns. Homer-happy Camden Yards could maximize Kim's power potential, but he'll likely need to exceed 20 round-trippers to have an impact in standard formats.