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What a potential Chong signing really means

The fact that the Orioles are close to signing 33-year-old South Korean Chong Tae-Hyon, a submarining right-hander, to a major league deal is rather interesting.

But there is something even more compelling about this move.

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If there were questions before about trepidation, they can go away now. New executive vice president Dan Duquette is not sitting back and waiting to get acclimated with a world he left nine years ago.

The jury is out on whether Chong will be able to make it as a late-inning reliever in the big leagues. Some believe his unorthodox style will befuddle hitters no matter where he is pitching. And he has had plenty of success on the international level (he closed out both medal games in the 2008 Summer Olympics).

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But he'd be the first person to leap from Korea's baseball league to the majors, and some believe that's way too much of a jump – that he'll be a Double-A level reliever, nothing more.

Whether he makes it is only part of the plot here. The fact is the Orioles are the team that is on him. And Dan Duquette is the one with the major connection to South Korea. He had connections there when he was in Montreal and Boston, and now his first noteworthy signing will be a guy from South Korea.

That's not to say that Chong was foreign (pun intended) to the previous Orioles regime. If you play on the major international stage, the Orioles know about you. But there was no indication that they had any interest in bringing him state-side.

That's all Duquette.

In fact, the Orioles' five acquisitions – counting Chong, Matt Antonelli and three six-year free agents – to date have had Duquette's thumbprints all over them.

That's not necessarily unusual for a GM. But it is surprising that he is taking charge this quickly.

Can't say these moves are definitely going to work out for the Orioles. But it is interesting that they are already happening.


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