Ten days remain to sign South Korean slugger Byung-ho Park, but the Twins now believe negotiations probably won’t come down to the deadline, a source with knowledge of the talks said Saturday.
“He’s coming to the U.S. [this week],” the source said. “There’s a reason for that. … [The Twins] think it will be done soon.”
Park will fly to Chicago on Sunday to meet with his agent in the talks, Alan Nero, according to a report Saturday by a South Korean news service, and plans to travel to Minneapolis soon afterward to meet with Twins officials.
The sides have until Dec. 8 to reach a contract agreement, 30 days after the Twins’ bid of $12.8 million for negotiating rights was accepted by the Nexen Heroes. General manager Terry Ryan said after the initial round of negotiations that the Twins were “hopeful” of coming to an agreement. If Park doesn’t sign by the deadline, he would return to Nexen.
Park’s presence in Minnesota would allow the Twins, if the two sides reach an greement, to conduct a physical exam. Park could also take part in an introductory press conference with their projected designated hitter, who was named MVP of the Korean Baseball Organization last week for a season in which he hit 53 home runs and collected 146 RBIs for the Heroes. Last week, Park hit two home runs during the Premier 12 international baseball tournament, including one in the championship game against the U.S. to lead Korea to the championship.
Park, 29, is believed to be seeking a multiyear contract, and he is expected to be one of the Twins’ 10 highest-paid players in 2016, likely somewhere between $5-10 million per season. Park’s Nexen teammate, Jung-ho Kang, received a four-year, $11 million contract from the Pirates a year ago. Considering Park is a better power hitter and Kang was a major success in Pittsburgh — a .277 average with 15 home runs and a third-place finish in Rookie of the Year voting — Park is almost certain to earn more than that.