The Twins won a surprising, perhaps even stunning $12.85 million bid for 29-year-old Korean first baseman Byung-ho Park on Monday morning, the team announced. There are many tentacles to this, so let’s get to it:
*Just because the Twins won the bid, it doesn’t mean Park is coming here for sure. It just gives Minnesota exclusive rights to negotiate a contract over the next 30 days. As you can see from this good Wiki list, teams more often than not come to agreements with players after they win bids, but it’s hardly a slam dunk.
*Park’s numbers in Korea, playing for the Nexen Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization, are absurd. Last season he hit 53 home runs with a 1.150 OPS. The year before that he hit 52 homers. He strikes out a ton. He walks a ton. He homers a ton. And he hits right handed. He sounds a lot like Miguel Sano … but let’s also remember: the Korean league is not the caliber of MLB. As Aaron Gleeman notes at Hardball Talk, Jung Ho Kang had similar numbers in Korea before debuting with the Pirates last year. His season was good (OPS over .800) in the majors, but he wasn’t a superstar in his first season. It’s hard to know exactly how skills translate until a player arrives — as the Twins and fans learned the hard way with Tsuyoshi Nishioka.
*Kang’s bat flip game rivals that of Jose Bautista. Check out this bat launch from 2013 after a home run. (Screen grab above)
*Wait, don’t the Twins already have a logjam at the corner infield/DH positions? Yes, which makes this surprising move even more surprising. With Miguel Sano, Trevor Plouffe, Joe Mauer and possibly Kennys Vargas already in the mix, something has to give if Park is indeed signed. The most likely candidate to be traded is Plouffe, though Twins fans could also wonder if this is a sign that Mauer might be willing to waive his no-trade clause and that the Twins think they can deal him.