Baltimore Orioles to Sign KBO Star Hyun-soo Kim
The Orioles have reportedly reached an agreement with South Korean star Hyun-soo Kim for two seasons at $7 million total. The deal is pending a physical, and while it hasn’t yet been reported, I would expect that the O’s have an option for a third season at something more than $3.5 million.
Given the amount of the contract in terms of current MLB salaries, it’s not a particularly big risk by the Orioles, but it does leave me wondering why not even one MLB team posted a bid for fellow KBO star Ah-Seop Son when he was posted earlier this off-season, because I don’t see much of a difference between the two players in terms of past KBO performance.
Both Kim and Son will be 28 next season. Kim has a KBO-career slash line of .318/.406/.488, while Son’s KBO-career slash line is .323/.398/.462. Not a lot of difference there. Kim has nearly 1,200 more KBO plate appearances than Son (4,700+ compared to 3,500+) because Kim reached KBO’s major league a couple of years younger than Son. At this point in their KBO careers, I don’t think that’s particularly important.
Kim had a better season than Son in 2015, but Son was better in 2014. Kim has a little more pop than Son, but Son appears to be faster based on stolen base numbers.
I don’t have any idea whether either player was significantly scouted by MLB teams, but based on the statistics, if Kim is worth two years and $7 million, then Son should have been worth at least a $2 million posting bid and a two-year contract offer of $3.5 million.
I feel the same way about Rich Hill and Jhoulys Chacin. Both pitched well in four late-season starts after spending most of the 2015 season at AAA. Hill was better than Chacin was, particularly in terms of strikeout rates, but I am at a loss to understand why Hill, who will be age 36 next year, received a $6 million deal from the A’s for 2016, while Chacin, who will be 28 next year, was forced to accept a minor league deal from the Braves. If Hill’s four 2015 MLB starts are worth $6 million in 2016, weren’t Chacin’s worth at least a guaranteed $600,000, particularly when Chacin is still in his prime?
Based on his past major league experience, my educated guess is that Chacin’s minor league deal probably pays him somewhere between $125,000 and $300,000 for time spent in the minor leagues and somewhere between $650,000 and $950,000 for time spent on the major league roster, so a strong Spring Training and season could mean more money for Chacin than a guaranteed contract at or near the major league minimum. Even so, a couple of years ago six or seven minor league free agents about the same age Chacin is now received major league contracts, and none of them had anywhere near Chacin’s past major league success, either in career terms or in the season after which they became free agents.
I think everyone but the Braves missed the boat on Chacin, but, of course, we’ll have to wait and see what happens when they begin playing baseball again in the spring.