SARASOTA, Fla. – Between now and noon on Sunday, the Orioles will figure out what to do with Hyun Soo Kim.
He’s not reporting to Triple-A Norfolk according to his agent despite the Orioles repeated efforts to convince him to do so.
The team can add him to the 25-man roster, which they don’t want to do, try and find a buyer in South Korea, which Kim doesn’t want them to do, release him and pay $7 million for watching him hit .182 in Grapefruit League play.
After Kim had played a handful of games, scouts were unanimous in their judgements. He wasn’t good enough to play in the major leagues. His offense was lacking. He couldn’t drive the ball. His defense wasn’t good, either. His arm was weak and couldn’t cover a lot of ground.
The Orioles hoped it was a case of culture shock and that he’d adjust. After an 0-for-23 start, he got somewhat better, but there were no extra-base hits.
Early in camp, manager Buck Showalter kept cautioning when it came to Kim: “If he goes north with us.” At the time, it seemed like an unnecessary proviso. Of course he was going north. Kim was the starting left fielder, and the team didn’t pay him $7 million over two years to watch him play at Norfolk’s Harbor Park.
Those warnings were not only necessary but farsighted just like Showalter’s assessment that there was competition for the rotation that some people didn’t understand.
Every other outfielder in spring training, major league or minor league was better than Kim. It wasn’t just that Joey Rickard outplayed him. Dariel Alvarez, Xavier Avery, L.J. Hoes, Alfredo Marte, Nolan Reimold and Henry Urrutia were all better. So was Christian Walker who’s played just two games in left.
There’s talk from people both in the States and in Korea that the Orioles should do the honorable thing and keep Kim on the 25-man roster.
He’s not good enough. Perhaps as Dan Duquette suggests, some time in Triple-A could enable Kim to be better, to acclimate, and be a useful major leaguer.
For now, Kim looks like a mistake, but the Orioles were quick in recognizing that.
It’s not uncommon for players to think they’re better than they are. In fact, it’s very common, but Kim is far from a major leaguer.
He should try Norfolk and see how he hits there. Maybe he just needs that time.
The Orioles have 48 hours to do something with him. It will be a long 48 hours for Duquette and Showalter.
MORE ORIOLES: No solution yet for Orioles-Kim dispute