Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Byung-ho Park effects

I didn't see this coming, but few if any outside the closed-mouth Twins organization did: The Twins on Monday landed the negotiation rights to Korean slugger Byung-ho Park.

In a nutshell: Park's Korean team, the Nexen Heroes, posted the 29-year-old first baseman. The Twins bid nearly $13 million for the right to sign Park. If they do sign him by the Dec. 8 deadline, the Twins owe the Heroes the $12.85 million; if they don't, they owe the Heroes nothing and Park plays in Korea next year.

It's rare, but not unprecedented, for a posting rights winner to fail to sign the player in question, so I expect the Twins and Park to strike a deal. Then what?

Park racked up big power numbers in the Korean league, bopping more than 50 homers each of the past two seasons. While there is no reason to expect him to hit 50 in the states, his Korean production was similar to that of Jung Ho Kang, who had a fine rookie season for Pittsburgh before suffering an injury on a take-out slide.

Park has flaws. He's limited to first base defensively, and he has, like Miguel Sano, a tendency to swing-and-miss. Inside fastballs are specifically said to be an issue for him. But if he hits as Kang did last year, there's certainly room for him in the Twins lineup.

But where? His likely addition opens a new window on the Sano-to-the-outfield chatter of last week. Pencil Park and Joe Mauer in to share DH and first base duties. If Trevor Plouffe remains at third base, the outfield is the only option to keep Sano in the lineup.

Which is, really, rather backwards thinking. Sano has to be in the lineup, and you work around that reality.

Can Sano play outfield? He hasn't in games, Even if he's passable in left or right, there's no way he's going to be as adept as Eddie Rosario or Aaron Hicks.

Which, as I see it, makes a trade of Plouffe likely. I'd rather have Sano at third than in the outfield, and it seems silly to stall Byron Buxton's emergence for anybody. I'm hoping that the Sano-as-an-outfielder notion is a smokescreen designed to bolster Plouffe's trade value by presenting the illusion that the Twins aren't trading him to make room for Park.

Even if they are.


  1. Have to sign him first... then - why not trade Rosario or Hicks? Then you have a power hitter in the OF with Rosario/Hicks (whoever does not get moved) with Buxton to cover some ground like they did for Hunter last year. The defensive leave of Sano at 3B makes me cringe...but keeping Trevor there and rotating Mauer/Park/Sano at 1B and DH...we might have something.

    1. update: Hicks to the Yanks for C Murphy...