Park’s $1.2M N.Y. Yankees deal is a first for a Korean

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Park’s $1.2M N.Y. Yankees deal is a first for a Korean

Veteran pitcher Park Chan-ho, having signed with the New York Yankees earlier this week, became the first Korean player to sign with the Bronx-based team and will look to secure the team’s setup role.

After fielding offers from several other clubs, including the Chicago Cubs, Park decided to sign with the Yankees on a one-year, $1.2 million contract that includes incentives worth $300,000.

“I’ve always wanted to wear the Yankee pinstripes,” Park said at a press conference on Monday in Yeok-sam, southern Seoul.

In signing with the reigning World Series champions, Park will have to compete for time on the mound with a strong cast of pitchers who are vying to play setup for closer Mariano Rivera. Alfredo Aceves and Sergio Miltre are both said to want the role. Aceves is the stronger candidate, last year posting 10 wins and one loss with a 3.54 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 84 innings pitched.

The Yankees have had Hideki Matsui of Japan, last year’s World Series’ Most Valuable Player, and Wang Chien-ming of Taiwan in the past. However, the most successful club in Major League Baseball history has not fielded a Korean player on its MLB or minor league clubs in the past.

That’s not to say the Yankees have never been interested in Korean pitchers. During the 2002 Busan Asian Games, the Yankees coordinator of Asia and Pacific rim scouting, John Cox, showed strong interest in the Doosan Bears’ Park Myung-hwan, and also took a look at Doosan’s closer, Jin Pil-joong.

In 2005, Koo Dae-sung announced that he had signed with the team, but the deal fell apart. The Yankees front office said at the time that Koo’s agent made the announcement before the deal was finalized.

By Choi Min-gyu

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