Park, 29, started his career in Korea with the LG Twins before being traded to the Nexen Heroes in the middle of the 2011 season. He broke out after the trade and has hit 30+ homers every year from 2012-15, including 52 last year and 47 this year. Park has twice been named KBO MVP (2012-13). Here are his career stats via Baseball Reference:
|2007-08: Did Not Play (Military Service)|
|All Levels (9 Seasons)||850||3196||522||755||134||5||204||592||58||21||422||777||.281||.387||.563||.950|
Yep, Park’s a slugger. Lots of dingers and also lots of strikeouts, apparently. He had a 25.0% strikeout rate this year and 24.8% last year in a league where the average strikeout rate is 18.8%, so right away that’s a bit of a red flag. Jung-Ho Kang, Park’s former teammate with Nexen, never had a strikeout rate higher than 21.2% in Korea, for example.
There are no good freely available scouting reports of Park available, so we have to stick to the basics. He stands 6-foot-1 and 194 lbs., both bats and throws right-handed, and his home run total suggests he has some power. The strikeout totals suggest Park also has some holes in his swing. Remember, he’s been striking out in a quarter of his plate appearances against KBO caliber pitching, which is several notches below MLB pitching.
Kang has been tremendously successful with the Pirates this season — he went into last night’s game hitting .287/.357/.469 (132 wRC+) with 15 homers and a 20.6% strikeout rate — which is going to lead to teams taking a much longer look at Korean position players in the future. Yoenis Cespedes really helped kick the door open for Cuban players and Kang could do the same for Korean players. Twenty-nine teams are wondering why they missed on him.
Yonhap News reported earlier this year that Park wants to come over to MLB after the season, though he will not be a free agent. The Heroes will have to agree to make him available via the posting system. The posting agreement with KBO is the old NPB system, meaning teams submit blind bids then win a 30-day negotiating window. The MLB team only has to pay the posting fee if they sign the player.
The Pirates landed Kang with a $5M posting fee and a measly four-year contract worth $11M. Total steal. Prices for Korean players are only going to climb though. That’s how these things usual work. They don’t get cheaper. I have no idea what kind of posting fee will be required to win Park’s rights and I have even less of an idea of what kind of contract it will take to get him signed. Total guesswork.
Now, that said, what would the Yankees do with Park? He’s a first baseman and a first baseman only. Mark Teixeira is signed through next year and Greg Bird is poised to be his long-term replacement. The Yankees also have Alex Rodriguez under contract through 2017, so they don’t need a DH either. Maybe Park’s athletic enough to play the outfield, or maybe they consider him a better long-term option than Bird. Who knows? Either way, we’ll hear more about Park this offseason. I’m sure of it.