Two years ago, the Orioles excitedly announced the signing of South Korean outfielder Hyun Soo Kim. The left-handed hitter was supposed to provide the Orioles with an effective contact hitter who got on base, exhibited occasional power and played an adequate left field.
In his stint with the Orioles, which abruptly ended July 28 with a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies for right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, Kim demonstrated just limited skills.
Now, the soon-to-be 30-year-old is headed back to South Korea, where he starred before signing a two-year, $7 million contract with the Orioles. According to Yonhap News, Kim has agreed to a four-year, $10.6 million contract with the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization.
Kim's stay with the Orioles was eventful. In 2016, he began his first spring training hitless in his first 23 at-bats, and the team wanted him to go to Triple-A Norfolk to help him adjust to U.S. baseball. His contract allowed him to refuse the assignment, and he did.
He was booed on his first Opening Day, but when manager Buck Showalter began playing him occasionally, Kim started to hit and won Showalter's trust and more regular work.
Kim ended 2016 with a .302 average and an impressive .382 on-base average in 95 games.
The season ended with Kim dodging a thrown beer can from the stands at Toronto's Rogers Centre during the American League wild-card game. Center fielder Adam Jones vocally defended Kim, who by then had become a welcome addition to the clubhouse.
In 2017, the Orioles hoped for an even better Kim, but despite additional playing time early in the season, he didn't hit nearly as well in his second U.S. season.
Trey Mancini, who made a smooth transition to left field, easily outplayed Kim, who hit .232 in 56 games with only one, early-season home run.
He didn't do any better in Philadelphia, where he hit .230 in 40 games.
His inability to hit left-handed pitchers further hurt Kim. In his two seasons, he was 2-for-33 (.061) against left-handers.
He was traded after a Friday night game in Texas and never got a chance to say goodbye to the Orioles teammates he'd grown close with.
After the season, Kim said he wanted to stay in the U.S., but it was obvious there was little interest in him.