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How does Kim change Orioles' lineup?

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How does Kim change Orioles' lineup?

Two months from tomorrow, spring training begins in Sarasota, Fla., and as this fascinating offseason continues for the Orioles, their team continues to change.

The Orioles made their fourth major move of the offseason on Wednesday night when they came to an agreement on a two-year, $7 million contract pending medical review with South Korean outfielder Hyun-soo Kim.

Kim is the first free agent from outside of the organization to join the team, and assuming he plays well enough in spring training, he becomes the seventh secure spot in the starting lineup.

When the season ended on Oct. 4, only four spots were obvious: J.J. Hardy at short, Adam Jones in center, Manny Machado at third and Jonathan Schoop at second.

After Matt Wieters accepted the $15.8 million qualifying offer, that was five, and two weeks ago, the Orioles added Mark Trumbo in a trade with Seattle.

If Chris Davis leaves, Trumbo will be the first baseman. Otherwise, he’ll play right or be the primary designated hitter.

Now that Kim is on board, that will be seven of the nine spots spoken for, and Dan Duquette hopes to add another piece between now and next Wednesday.

Kim brings two things the Orioles badly need: a left-handed hitter and on-base capability. Of the first six spots, only Wieters, who’s a switch-hitter was a left-hander.

For several years, the Orioles have sought to improve their on-base percentage, and they haven’t.
In his 10 seasons for the Doosan Bears of the Korea Baseball Organization, Kim was a walking machine, with a stunning .406 OBP.

Last year, at 27, Kim established career highs in home runs (28) RBIs (12) and walks (101). He hit .326. Kim also stole 11 bases in 16 attempts.

From Feb. 18, when camp opens to April Fool’s Day when exhibition games end, Buck Showalter will be pestered with questions about Kim’s transition.

How will he do in the U.S?

There have been 16 Koreans in the major leagues, including the New York Yankees’ Rob Refsnyder, who was adopted as a baby and raised in the U.S.

Other than Refsnyder, just three have been position players: Texas’ Shin-soo Choo, Pittsburgh’s Jung-ho Kang and Hee-Seop Choi, who played four seasons with three teams last decade.

Last month, Minnesota signed first baseman Byung-Ho Park, a player who interested the Orioles, but he was subject to the posting process, and the Twins won out.

With his terrific on-base skills, perhaps Kim will be the Orioles’ leadoff hitter.

By necessity, Showalter put Machado in the leadoff spot for much of the season, but he’d prefer someone else there.

If the Orioles are able to sign a right fielder with good on-base skills, that would satisfy the team’s needs for a leadoff hitter.

For the moment, the Orioles have seven outfielders on the 40-man roster:  Jones, Trumbo, Dariel Alvarez, L.J. Hoes, Nolan Reimold, Joey Rickard and Henry Urrutia.

They also have Alfredo Marte, whose signing to a minor league contract has not yet been made official, but he’ll receive a spring training invitation.

At Saturday’s FanFest, Jimmy Paredes, who had a wonderful first half, but awful second half at bat, said he felt comfortable playing right field during winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

Paredes, who had huge issues in the infield last season, played one game in right field in 2015. In 2012 and 2013 with Houston, Paredes played 54 games in right.

He said he failed to adjust to pitcher’s adjustments of him last season, and he knows he’ll have to do it to be successful next season.

Paredes isn’t going to be the answer in right, but he’s a switch-hitter, who is a much more accomplished hitter left-handed than right. He struck out 111 times and walked just 19, so he’s not going to be the Orioles’ first batter of 2016, either.

Once Kim’s signing is officially announced, which could be a few days away, the Orioles will have to remove a player from the 40-man roster.
 

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The most unbelievable catch of the Orioles' dismal season came in the team's final game

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The most unbelievable catch of the Orioles' dismal season came in the team's final game

It's not how you start, it's how you finish, and boy did Orioles right fielder Steve Wilkerson make sure the team went out with a bang against the Boston Red Sox.

Bottom of the eighth, game knotted at four, Jackie Bradley Jr. sent what seemed to be a moonshot to right field...

But what happens next is arguably the best catch of the entire MLB season. 

This catch by Wilkerson is nothing less than spectacular. Not only did he possess the focus to track the ball beyond the wall, but the athleticism to make the catch while almost tumbling over backwards into the crowd. 

This year may have been a huge let down for Baltimore, but here's to a bright spot heading into the offseason. 

MORE MLB COVERAGE:

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Orioles Roundup: Baltimore topples Blue Jays, 11-4

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Orioles Roundup: Baltimore topples Blue Jays, 11-4

The Orioles are now five games better than last season's woeful 47-115 record. While they continue to win meaningless games late in the season, their poor season won't go away. 

Player Notes:

Dylan Bundy gave up only two runs in seven innings pitched against the Blue Jays, bringing his season's ERA down to 4.79. 

Also, Trey Mancini went a perfect 5-5 in the Orioles win Tuesday night. He's now batting .373 against Toronto, hitting 25 of his 94 RBI this season against Toronto. Dwight Smith Jr. also impressed with a 3-4 showing, hitting a homer and three RBI of his own. 

Injuries: 

OF Mason Williams, knee, out indefinitely

RP Hunter Harvey, biceps, sidelined, day-to-day

RP Josh Rogers, elbow, 60-Day IL, out indefinitely 

SP Alex Cobb, back, 60-Day IL, 2020

Coming Up: 

Wednesday, Sept. 25: Orioles at Toronto, 7:07 p.m. at Rogers Centre

Thursday, Sept. 26: Orioles at Boston, 7:10 p.m. at Fenway Park

Friday, Sept. 27: Orioles at Boston, 1:05 p.m. at Fenway Park