Twins General Manager Terry Ryan described negotiations with Byung-ho Park Wednesday as "ongoing," and said "we're hopeful of coming to an agreement." It's been almost 10 days since the Twins were awarded the right to sign the South Korean slugger to a contract, so they still have three weeks to work out a deal.
The Twins are trying to keep the negotiations quiet, but it's becoming clear that after their first few discussions with agent Alan Nero, they are optimistic about getting a deal done. If no contract is agreed to by Dec. 8, Park would return to the Nexen Heroes in the Korean league, and the team would refund the Twins' $12.8 million posting fee.
Park's contract will be interesting, considering the Twins already will have invested $12.8 million in him. Nero told the Boston Herald earlier this month that if Park was Cuban, and able to negotiate with all 30 teams and not just the Twins, he would receive a contract worth $100 million. Park, who hit 105 home runs over the past two seasons in South Korea, doesn't figure to receive anywhere close to that, but it's likely that he will be one of the Twins' 10 highest paid players next year.
Park's Nexen teammate, Jung-ho Kang, received a four-year, $11 million contract from the Pirates a year ago, a bargain after batting .277 with 15 home runs and finishing third in NL Rookie of the Year voting. Park will earn more than that, but reaching a final figure could be difficult considering the uncertainty over how well he will hit against better pitchers in bigger ballparks.
Park has been playing for South Korea's national team in the Premier 12 international tournament in Taiwan and Japan this month. The Koreans beat Cuba on Monday, with Park contributing two hits including a triple, to reach Thursday's semifinals in Tokyo against Japan. Park is 5-for-22 (.227) in the tournament, with a home run accounting for his only RBI, and seven strikeouts.