Byung-ho Park Signs With KBO’s KT Wiz

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First baseman Byung-ho Park has signed with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, the team announced. It’s a three-year deal that’ll pay him $2.5MM (h/t to Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap).

Park, 35, has spent the bulk of his professional career in South Korea. He broke in as an 18-year-old in 2005 and spent his first few seasons with the LG Twins. By 2011, he’d moved to the Nexen Heroes and quickly emerged as a middle-of-the-order masher. He posted an OPS above 1.000 in each season from 2013-15, blasting 50+ home runs in each of the latter two years of that run.

While that stretch marked the best few years of Park’s career, he’s better known in the United States for his stint with the Minnesota Twins. After the 2015 campaign, the Heroes made the right-handed hitter available to big league clubs via the posting system. At that time, the posting process involved blind bidding for the right to negotiate with the player. (The most recent CBA completely changed the system, and the posting fee is now determined as a percentage of the player’s contract).

The Twins won the bidding by paying a $12.85MM posting fee to the Heroes, giving them a month’s window of exclusive negotiation to hammer out a deal with Park. They eventually agreed upon a four-year, $12MM deal that brought the Twins’ total outlay just under $25MM in hopes of adding an impact bat to the lineup.

Unfortunately for Park and the Twins, that proved not to be the case. He struggled to a .191/.275/.409 line over 244 MLB plate appearances in 2016, punching out at an alarming 32.8% clip. The Twins outrighted him off the 40-man roster that offseason, and he spent the entire 2017 campaign in Triple-A. At the end of that second season, Park requested and was granted his release to return to his home country, with contemporary reports indicating he forewent some or all of his remaining guaranteed money from Minnesota to do so.

Park has spent the past four seasons with the Heroes, mashing over the first two years before enduring an offensive dip in each of the past two campaigns. He’s coming off a .229/.322/.433 showing that’s his least productive in the KBO in over a decade. He’ll now make the jump to his third KBO organization, leaving the Heroes to sign with the Wiz.

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