The first player out of the Korean Baseball Organization to be posted this offseason, first baseman Byung-Ho Park, drew a number of bids from major league teams – including the Orioles – and his negotiation rights went to the Twins for a price tag of $12.85 million.
The Orioles did not place a bid on the second player posted, 27-year-old corner outfielder Ah-Seop Son of the Lotte Giants – and neither did any other major league club.
It was a bit of a surprise that not a single team placed a blind bid for Son, a high on-base, low-strikeout player who hit .317/.406/.472 with 13 homers, 54 RBIs and 11 stolen bases last season.
As for the Orioles, they seem more interested in another left-handed-hitting corner outfielder out of the KBO. Ten-year veteran Hyun-soo Kim is now an international free agent, which means he isn’t subject to the posting process. That means that Kim can sign with any team.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Kim possesses a rare combination of power and plate discipline. He hit .326/.438/.541 last season for the Doosan Bears with 28 homers and 128 RBIs. He also walked 101 times and struck out just 63 times and had more walks (597) than strikeouts (501) over his career.
Kim went undrafted out of high school, but developed into one of the KBO's best pure hitters in the league's history. Despite playing a decade in Korea, Kim is also relatively young. He doesn’t turn 27 until next month.
The Orioles obviously need corner outfield help. And if they are convinced that Kim can make the transition to the majors – that’s always the biggest question with players from abroad – he might be a more cost-effective option rather than delving into a free-agent outfield pool highlighted by players tied to draft pick compensation such as Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.
The Orioles have handed out another nonroster invitation to big league spring training, this one going to a familiar face.
The club has signed veteran utility man Steve Tolleson, who played for the Orioles in 2012, to a minor-league deal with an invitation to big league spring training.
Tolleson, 32, spent the past two seasons in the Blue Jays organization. He hit .268/.333/.439 with five doubles and three RBIs in 19 big league games with Toronto last season. He played in 109 games with the Blue Jays in 2014, hitting.258/.308/.373 in 189 plate appearances.
In his previous stint with the Orioles, Tolleson shuttled between the majors and Triple-A Norfolk. In 29 games at the big league level, he played second base, third base, shortstop, and left field. He hit .183/.227/.310 with two homers and six RBIs.
Tolleson will add organizational infield depth, something the Orioles need, especially in the middle infield positions. However, unlike his 2012 stint, Tolleson does not have minor league options remaining, so he’d have to clear waivers before he could be sent to the minors.
The Orioles also gave a nonroster invitation to first baseman Ji-Man Choi, who spent the past five years in the Mariners organization.