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Hyun Soo Kim and Joey Rickard could be the makings of a strong platoon in left field for the Orioles

With the signing of Fowler, the entire every day lineup for the Orioles seems pretty locked down, except for left field, where two new players could create a wonderful partnership.

It has been a whirlwind of an offseason for the Baltimore Orioles. Many of the team's own key free agents are back under contract despite rumors they were all headed elsewhere. They've finally settled matters with Yovani Gallardo, and, pending his physical, will be adding a leadoff hitter in Dexter Fowler as well. But two "under-the-radar" moves may prove to be the steals of the winter.

At this point in time, eight of the nine starting positions in the every day lineup seem pretty locked down. Across the infield you have Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop, J.J. Hardy and Manny Machado. Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph will each get some time behind the plate. Mark Trumbo figures to be the DH. And then we have Adam Jones and Fowler (we hope) in center field and right field, respectively. The only spot that is not set in stone appears to be left field.

Left field is an issue

Left field was a well-known problem area for the Birds in 2015. The position's .210 batting average was the second-worst in baseball (ahead of only Oakland, .199). On top of that, they were third-worst in on-base percentage (.287), worst in doubles (20), third-worst in RBI (53) and fourth-worst in slugging percentage (.353). You get it. It was just bad.

There are a number of familiar names that step back into the fold this spring, including Nolan Reimold, Dariel Alvarez and Henry Urrutia. Heck, maybe even the lead-gloved Jimmy Paredes, because he really needs to find a position he can play with some level of confidence if he has any hope of sticking around. But those options were all a part of the problem last year; not a viable solution to be found.

Can two newcomers be the solution?

It should be two other new faces that provide the Orioles with their best chance at improving the performance in left field: Hyun Soo Kim and Joey Rickard.

Kim, 28 years old, comes over from the Korean league on a two-year, $7 million deal and looks to be the likely starter as workouts begin. Rickard, 24 years old, was a Rule 5 pick back in December from the Tampa Bay Rays. He was a mid-tier prospect until he had a stellar 2015 season, but was left off of Tampa's 40-man roster. The two could combine to be one of the better platoons in all of baseball. Of course, that is a huge maybe.

Kim was ridiculous overall in the KBO last year. He slashed .326/.438/.541 with 28 home runs, 121 RBI, 101 walks and only 63 strikeouts over 141 games. Don't expect quite those numbers, but after the Pirates Jung-ho Kang put together a nice little .287/.355/.461 season he proved that Korean hitters do have what it takes to succeed here. Even a slightly lesser output than that for Kim would be a huge boost.

Rickard was similarly as impressive down in the Rays minor league system last summer. He played at three different levels (High-A, Double-A and Triple AAA) and he hit everywhere. Over 117 games at all three stops, he slashed .321/.427/.447 with just two home runs and 55 RBI, but he did show impressive speed with eight triples and swiping 23 bags in 29 attempts. Not to mention, he struck out just 75 times while walking 66 times.

They could work well together

As Kim is the older, more experienced and more accomplished player, he should get the chance to start out of the gate, but it is a bit premature to say he is the out-and-out starter. His $3.5 million salary and it being his first season of MLB action tells us to be cautious. Instead, build both Kim and Rickard up to succeed by playing them when it makes sense and allow them to complement one another.

Kim throws right handed and hits left handed. Rickard throws left handed and hits right handed (I know, weird). In Korea, Kim showed an ability to hit righties and lefties equally well (.333 v. southpaws, .330 against right-handers, .288 against "under-handers". I'm not quite sure what that is, but I think someone like O'Day). But against an especially tough lefty (oh, I don't know, like David Price,) Rickard may be the better choice. He hit .372 in 116 plate appearances against southpaws last year.

In the field, we don't have much to go on, but Kim is said to be about an average defender, which isn't surprising given that he looks to be a little thicker and made to hit baseballs rather than catch them. Rickard apparently has good speed and manager Buck Showalter was even quoted by MASN's Roch Kubatko earlier in the week saying that Rickard has impressed.

"I was watching Rickard run around in the outfield yesterday during BP," Showalter said. "He can go get the ball. Got a David Lough look to him as a defender."

He said "as a defender". Let's hope it's a bit better as a hitter, but that sounds like he is making a good first impression. And when Buck likes a guy, he likes a guy. It was almost automatic for Lough to enter the ninth inning of most games to play some rock solid defense. Rickard, Jones and Fowler across the outfield would be a pretty speedy group and I'm sure Darren O'Day and Zach Britton would appreciate it in tight games.

What to expect

If we look at Steamer projections, they have Kim hitting .273/.338/.420 with 12 home runs and 45 RBI in 97 games. Rickard is set to hit .256/.324/.350 with one home run, 15 RBI and four stolen bases over 37 games. I'm not sure who will play the remaining 28 games. Anyway, none of that is outstanding, but together it would be a marked improvement from what we saw in left field on a day-to-day basis in 2015.

Kim is basically a lock in most people's minds, but it remains to be seen whether or not Rickard even makes the club. The only advantage he had over the likes of Reimold, Urrutia and the rest was that he is a legitimate center fielder. Well, the seemingly-imminent signing of Fowler eliminates the need to have a dedicated back-up center fielder as he could easily move over and have someone take up right field for a day or two should Jones take a knock.

However, we know what to expect from the well-known group of mediocre outfielders that have bounced between Triple-A and the big leagues. They each can hit a little bit and are semi-athletic, but none of them fill a real need on the club. Rickard does. He is speed off the bench, a valuable late-inning glove and possibly a specialist against tough left-handers.

Whatever the case, Rickard will be an Oriole for at least a few more weeks. Per MLB rules, the O's can't move him until March 14, so even if the Fowler and Gallardo deals get done it won't be Rickard who is cut loose. He has more than half of Spring Training to show 'em what he's got. Could he be the next Duquette diamond to pay off? Let's hope so.