After the Orioles signed young Korean lefty, Kim Seong-Min, right out of high school, the KBO has come down hard on both the Orioles and the young pitcher.
First, Kim was suspended indefinitely from ever playing in South Korea, no small penalty considering very few prospects make it in America—only 12 have reached the Big Leagues. Then, the whole Orioles scouting department was banned from the country. This is not an exaggeration: no Orioles employees are allowed to attend amateur baseball games anywhere in South Korea.
Even worse for the kid:
Despite an official apology from Dan Duquette (Orioles exec-VP), MLB caved to South Korean protests and declared Kim’s contract with the Orioles null and void. Kim will stay in Korea, where presumably his suspension will be lifted, and the O’s have nothing to show for their efforts except a travel ban.
The Orioles broke none of their (The KBO’s) rules. Sure, Korean rules prohibit Korean teams from signing high schoolers, but there’s nothing on the books stopping an American team from doing it. All Baltimore violated was a gentleman’s agreement—“a breach in protocol”—not to negotiate with Korean players before alerting the KBO.
Let’s hope the kid, who just lost a half million dollars, still gets a chance to at least play in the Korean big leagues and not get screwed by this one-sided pissing contest.
And if you are an Orioles fan, you might consider leaving the jersey and hat at home the next time you might be passing by a high school ball game in Korea.
UPDATE: Thanks to Robert, who was contacted by Yonhap copy-editor Tracie Barrett. According to Ms. Barrett, the Kim contract was not, in fact, declared null and void but only delayed for 30 days, during which he can stay in the United States but must train on his own, not with the team. “No lost job, no lost half million dollars.”