On December 23rd, 2015, the Orioles signed Hyun Soo Kim to a 2-year $7 million deal with the expectation that he'd be their everyday left-fielder. However as of today, not only is he not the starting left-fielder, but Baltimore doesn't even want him on the 25-man roster.
In 44 spring training at-bats, Kim hit .182, with a .229 OBP; no where near what the Orioles envisioned when he showed up at camp. They were hoping he'd be closer to the hitter he was in the KBO, where he slashed .326/.438/.541 in 2015. With his disappointing performance this spring, Baltimore would like to send Kim to the minor leagues, which they can't do without his consent.
"The Orioles met again today with Hyun Soo Kim while trying to gauge whether he's willing to accept a minor league assignment.
It's the third meeting with the South Korean outfielder, who took batting practice and later will occupy a seat on the bench, his last start coming on Saturday.
The sense within the organization is that Kim remains leery of surrendering his place on the 25-man roster. He would have to break camp with the team or be released and collect his salary."
While Kim certainly has the right to refuse an assignment to the minor leagues, if he does, it could spell the end of his time in the major leagues; which really hasn't started. With only 25 roster spots, the Orioles can't afford to have Kim occupy a position if they're not confident in his abilities going forward.
However after his prolonged slump to start the spring (0-23), Kim hit .380 in his following 21 at-bats. While the public perception seems to be that Baltimore is experiencing "buyers remorse", Dan Duquette wants to make it abundantly clear that's not the case.
"The Orioles are happy Kim is on board, but we feel the player needs more at-bats to prepare for the season, which unfortunately we don't have now in Baltimore and it's the reason the club requested that the player consider an optional assignment. We recognize player rights and are glad to have him in the organization. We all look forward to his contributions to the club after he's had more time to adjust to his new surroundings."
Duquette also noted that in the KBO, "the pro clubs train for 10 weeks to prepare for a season". Kim only had four weeks of games to adjust to major league pitching, and could very well benefit from an extra week or two in AAA.
It's still unclear how this story will ultimately resolve itself, but with roster decisions due by Sunday at 12:00 pm EST, we'll have an answer soon.