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Orioles' Kim Seong-min situation far from over

The circus revolving around the Orioles' signing of 17-year-old South Korean pitcher Kim Seong-min is far from over.

First are the semantics. As reported yesterday, an industry source confirmed to me last night that Kim's contract is not voided, but that it has not been approved.

That's a big difference. The Orioles can approach the situation with Kim again. Yonhap News Agency reported that the contract will be on hold for the next 30 days. Yonhap also reported that the KBO was told by MLB that the Orioles will receive an undisclosed fine.

That signifies that the move is more of a good-faith gesture to the Korean Baseball Organization and Korean Baseball Association, as well as an admission that the Orioles did breach protocol in not conducting a proper status check of Kim's eligibility.

The KBO and KBA have been concerned that this type of action hinders the country from keeping its young baseball talent. But it appears that they were more upset that the Orioles did things the wrong way. And if the Orioles followed the proper procedures, nothing stopped them from still signing Kim, who was reportedly given a $550,000 signing bonus.

There's nothing here that says the Orioles still won't get Kim at the end of the day. I'm not sure other teams would want to touch this situation. If the Orioles wait, they can still get their man. Back in 2008, the Angels' contract with South Korean pitcher Pil-Joon Jang was also not approved for 30 days because they didn't conduct a status check, but the Angels still ended up signing him to a $650,000 signing bonus. 

In the meantime, Kim, who turns 18 in April and was reportedly already in Los Angeles preparing for minor league spring training, is in limbo. In the process, the teenager was suspended from competing in Korea.

What happens now will be interesting. The Orioles formally apologized last week. Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has made recruiting South Korea a major priority. But will the Kim situation hurt their efforts there? One of new executive director of international baseball Ray Poitevint's main goals is to cultivate the Asian market for the Orioles, and South Korea is a large part of that movement.

One of Poitevint's goals has been to give the Orioles a positive image in South Korea. In a much less publicized move, the organization signed journeyman South Korean pitcher Choi Eun-chul. There were plans to sign more young Korean pitchers in the near future. 

It will be interesting to see how the Kim situation affects all those plans.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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