The 30 day window the Minnesota Twins purchased for $12.85 million for an opportunity to sign Nexen Heroes South Korean star first baseman Byung Ho Park wasn’t set to expire until December 8 but the Twins wasted no time and had their man signed, delivered, and presented to Twins fans on Tuesday December 1. According to numerous reports the Twins gave Park a four-year $12 million deal that includes a $6.5 million club option ($500K buyout) for the 2020 campaign. Minnesota will pay Park $2.75 million annually for the deal’s first two seasons and then $3 million in 2018 and again 2019.
Park, 29, hit .343/.436/.714 with 53 home runs and 146 RBIs for the Nexen Heroes in 2015. There isn’t a lot of history to go on for how a good hitter in his athletic prime will translate from the KBO to the MLB, but Pittsburgh’s Jung Ho Kang is an encouraging comparison if you’re a Twins fan.
The question becomes who will play where as the Twins appeared over-stocked with corner infielders. Incumbents are Joe Mauer at first and Trevor Plouffe at third but Park is also a first baseman and supposedly has played some outfield and Miguel Sano was the DH last season but the Twins want him on the field in 2016 and plan to move him to the outfield. Kennys Vargas and Oswaldo Arcia are also looking for a roster spot and both probably fit best as a DH. 1B/outfielder Max Kepler had a breakout season and was rewarded with a September call-up and he too has his eye on Twins roster spot. Of course we can’t forget about Danny Santana who had a great rookie year in 2014 but crashed and burned this past season.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Twins had a glut of outfielders and Twins management said it would all sort itself out. After the season ended the Twins said that the excess of outfielders became an issue and they had to clean things up. Now the Twins say the excess of corner fielders is not an issue again, I find that hard to believe and think that the trade winds are brewing for a couple of Twins or wannabe Twins.
Lots of potential here but also lots of unknown’s, it could be the most interesting rest of the winter and spring for Twins position players in years. I can’t wait for spring training to start.