Park excited to join MLB despite fee criticism
Park was officially introduced at Target Field, the Twins home park in Minneapolis, on Thursday (Korean time) a day after he signed a four-year deal worth $12 million with a club option for 2020 at $6.5 million.
The deal made the 29-year-old the second field player to move from the Korea Baseball Organization to MLB after his former Nexen Heroes teammate Kang Jung-ho, who transferred to the Pittsburgh Pirates last year.
His deal with the Twins was short of what analysts had predicted and some Korean fans are wondering why the two-time MVP in the KBO is moving to the United States for such a cheap price tag. Typically, the total value of a contract exceeds the posting bid, but Park’s deal adds up to less than what the Twins paid just to talk to him.
The Twins paid $12.85 million in their posting bid on Nov. 9 to negotiate with the former Nexen Heroes first baseman for 30 days. The deadline for signing was next Tuesday, but the two sides inked the deal earlier than expected.
Despite the concerns of some fans that he hasn’t benefitted much from the current posting system to get a better deal, Park said he had no problem signing the contract.
“I think Minnesota made a challenging offer,” he said at the press conference. “I was satisfied with the amount and I felt great at signing the contract.”
Park is the only player to be top in home runs and RBIs for four straight years in the KBO. He is the only player to hit 50 or more home runs in consecutive seasons. This season, the right-handed power batter went .343 batting average, 53 home runs and a KBO single season record of 146 RBIs in 140 games.
Though he isn’t sure whether he can repeat the same stats in the U.S., Park said he will try his best to adjust to his new surroundings.
“Baseball is baseball,” Park said. “I know a lot of good players play in the major leagues, so I’m going to try my best to adjust to Major League Baseball.”
Park said he has been in touch with former teammate Kang and received some advice.
Kang, 28, was sidelined near the end of the season due to an injury, but finished in third place for the National League Rookie of the Year Award. “Kang Jung-ho told me pitchers here are different than the KBO pitchers as they throw a faster ball with more movement,” Park said. “He said he found it difficult to adjust early on, but he grew more confident at the plate as he started playing more games.”
Park, who made the KBO debut with LG Twins in 2005, will play as a designated hitter (DH) although his main position in the KBO was first baseman and won the Golden Glove three times in that position.
“If the Twins want me to be the DH, I can serve in that role well,” Park said. “My job is to prepare for whatever the team wants.”
Twins general manager Terry Ryan said the team’s franchise star and former MVP-winning catcher Joe Mauer will cover first base, while 22-year-old Dominican Miguel Sano will move to outfield.
BY JOO KYUNG-DON [email@example.com]
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