Two seasons ago, no Korean position player had ever made the direct leap from the KBO to Major League Baseball. Then, last year, Jung-Ho Kang made the leap, providing both excellent offense and defense for the Pittsburgh Pirates, finishing third in National League Rookie of the Year voting. Now, in 2016, there could be three such players who will go directly from the KBO diamond to the MLB field.
The Minnesota Twins have already signed first baseman Byung-Ho Park, and now the Baltimore Orioles have formally made an offer to outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim. Although the exact details about the contract offer have not emerged, it looks like the offer is for two years and between $6 million and $8 million.
Last year’s Orioles received less production from their outfielders than all but two teams, the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds. Although the Orioles again received superlative production from center fielder Adam Jones, no other outfielders managed to lock down a season-long starting spot, with players like Delmon Young, David Lough, and Gerardo Parra all turning in below-replacement-level seasons.
Baltimore did trade for slow-footed slugger Mark Trumbo earlier this offseason, but a regular starting spot could definitely be in Kim’s immediate future, provided that the player and team agree to terms.