Byung ho Park has “no problem with being the DH” for the Twins, he said before departing for the United States on Sunday. “Obviously, I prefer to take the field, but I also have to make adjustments in a new environment.”
Park, nearing the end of negotiations with the Twins over a free-agent contract, held a news conference at Incheon International Airport, according to the Yonhap News agency in South Korea, and said “I hope to be able to return with a positive result.”
The value of his contract, however, may fall short of the $5-10 million per year level that had been predicted for him, but “it certainly doesn’t mean I am not satisfied with the offer,” he told reporters.
Park is en route to Chicago to meet with agent Alan Nero of Octagon Baseball, and is expected in the Twin Cities over the next few days to meet with Twins officials. If negotiations are successful, Park could take a physical exam and be introduced at a press conference sometime this week. The Twins won the right to negotiate with Park for 30 days, a period that expires on Dec. 8, by bidding $12.8 million.
A source with knowledge of the negotiations told the Twins on Saturday that the team expects the contract to be completed “soon,” and Park sounded similarly encouraging on Sunday. “I am approaching [contract talks] with a positive mind,” he said.
The slugger, a first baseman though Yonhap noted that he works at third base during spring training as well, hit 53 home runs last season and 52 in 2014, promising a welcome infusion of power into the Twins’ lineup. He batted .343 last season with 146 RBIs, but also struck out 146 times in 140 games.
The Twins intend to use Park as the full-time DH once he is acclimated to Major League pitching, general manager Terry Ryan said. Park said he hoped that process wouldn’t take long. “I’m going to have to face hard-throwing pitchers, and my ability to hit for power will make or break my big-league career,” the 29-year-old Korean said. “I will try to do the best I can, feeling proud of being in the league with the greatest players in the world. There will be difficulties along the way, but I will try to adjust.”
He has spoken with former Nexen Heroes teammate Jung ho Kang, who hit 15 home runs for the Pirates last season. “I hope to put up good numbers, as Kang did,” Park said. “He told me things will work themselves out after a month” in the majors.