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La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Twins sign Byung Ho Park to four-year, $12 million contract

    No Twin has ever hit 50 home runs in a season. Byung Ho Park has done it in each of the past two years. No wonder Minnesota was eager to sign the South Korean slugger.

    Park will get a chance to show how well power hitting across the Pacific translates to Major League Baseball, after agreeing Tuesday to a four-year contract worth $12 million, the Twins announced. A two-time MVP in the Korea Baseball Organization, Park is expected to take over as the Twins’ designated hitter next season.

    Park is guaranteed $12 million over the next four seasons, but the contract could be worth as much as $18 million. His salary will be $2.75 million in each of the next two seasons, then $3 million in 2018 and 2019. The Twins hold an option for 2020 worth $6.5 million, which can be bought out for $500,000.

    That’s only $1 million in total salary more than the Pirates paid Jung Ho Kang, Park’s former teammate with the Nexen Heroes, when he signed a four-year contract last winter. Kang hit 15 home runs, batted .287 and finished third in NL Rookie of the Year balloting.

    In addition to Park’s salary, the Twins will pay a posting fee of $12.8 million to Nexen, Park’s KBO team for the past five seasons, for the rights to sign their star player. With the posting fee, the Twins’ total investment in Park is $24.8 million, or $6.2 million per year.

     The Twins, who outbid several other MLB teams for Park's rights, had until Dec. 8 to reach an agreement. But negotiations moved swiftly, and Park flew to Minneapolis on Sunday to finalize the deal, with agent Alan Nero of Octagon Baseball joining him here Monday. An introductory press conference is scheduled for Wednesday at Target Field.

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    Park, 29, was a first baseman for Nexen and the Korean national team, but that position is filled by Joe Mauer with the Twins. So he is projected to displace Miguel Sano as the team’s designated hitter, with Sano tentatively set to move to right field next season. Park said earlier this week that he has “no problem with being the DH” for the Twins. “Obviously, I prefer to take the field, but I also have to make adjustments in a new environment,” he said.

    The Twins hope that adjustment won’t take long, and they are heartened by the Kang’s example. Like Kang, Park is coming off a terrific season in the KBO — Park batted .343 with 146 RBIs for Nexen last season, and he has driven in at least 100 runs with at least 30 home runs in each of his past four seasons, earning the MVP trophy in both 2012 and 2013.

     It’s his power that most appeals to the Twins, who were 10th in the American League with 156 home runs last year, and who haven’t ranked in the upper half of the AL since 2004.

    Park wore No. 52 for Nexen, and is expected to retain the number with Minnesota. Brian Duensing wore No. 52 for the past seven seasons, but the reliever is a free agent and is not expected to return in 2016.

    The 29-year-old Park represents the Twins’ second free-agent acquisition via the posting system used for players under contract in Japan and South Korean. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, an infielder from the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan, signed with the Twins in December 2010, but was a bust in the U.S., batting only .215 in 71 career games before returning to Japan.

Twins minor-league managers return, but coaches shuffled for '16

    The Twins’ minor-league managerial staff will remain unchanged for 2016, the team announced Tuesday, though most will welcome new members of their coaching staff.

    Mike Quade will return for a second season at Class AAA Rochester, while Doug Mientkiewicz, who led Class AA Chattanooga to the Southern League championship in 2015, will be back for a second season there as well, the Twins announced. The Class A managers will be Jeff Smith at Fort Myers for a second season, and Jake Mauer at Cedar Rapids for a fourth, while Ray Smith will manage the rookie-level Elizabethton Twins for a 23rd consecutive season. Ramon Borrega returns as manager of the Twins’ Gulf Coast League entry, while Jimmy Alvarez manages the Twins’ Dominican Summer League team.

    Hitting coach Chad Allen and pitching coach Stu Cliburn have been promoted from Chattanooga to Rochester for next season, replacing Tim Doherty and Marty Mason, who are no longer in the Twins’ organization. It’s Cliburn’s second stint as the Red Wings’ pitching coach, a position he held from 2006-08.

    Tommy Watkins has been promoted from Cedar Rapids and Ivan Arteaga from Fort Myers to form Mientkiewicz’s staff at Chattanooga, while Cedar Rapids pitching coach Henry Bonilla moves up to replace Arteaga in Fort Myers. Jim Dwyer remains hitting coach there.

    Mauer’s new staff in Cedar Rapids spent last season in the GCL: Hitting coach Brian Dinkelman, a former Twins infielder, and pitching coach J.P. Martinez. Pitching coach Luis Ramirez and hitting coach Jeff Reed return will return to Elizabethton. GCL pitching coaches will be Virgil Vasquez and Ciney Bello, a former coach in the Mariners’ system, while the hitting coaches will be Javier Valentin and Steve Singleton.

    Like many teams, the Twins tend to hire their own former players. Among their minor-league managers, Mientkiewicz was drafted by the Twins and played seven seasons in the majors for them, while Mauer, Alvarez and Jeff and Ray Smith all played in Minnesota’s minor-league system. Allen, Watkins, Dinkelman and Valentin also reached the major leagues with the Twins, while Bonilla, Martinez, Vasquez and Singleton played for their minor-league teams.


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