When the Twins won the rights to negotiate with Byung-ho Park, his signing wasn’t quite a foregone conclusion — we’ve seen these things go wrong before. But it seemed very likely the Twins and Park would eventually reach an agreement, and now we’re officially there, with Park having been introduced at a press conference.
To quickly review, the Pirates bid $5 million for Jung-ho Kang. Then they signed him to a four-year contract worth $11 million, with a maximum possible value of five years and $20 million.
The Twins bid $12.85 million for Byung-ho Park. Now they’ve signed him to a four-year contract worth $12 million, with a maximum possible value of five years and $23 million.
So, it’s clearly a very similar contract structure. For all intents and purposes, Park and Kang wound up with the same deal. Kang would’ve deserved a bit of a bonus for having middle-infield potential, but Kang was also the first of his player type to try to come over, so Park benefits some from Kang’s success. Yet, the contract isn’t where the real effect is observed.
Because of Kang, other Korean players will draw more attention. They’ll be more highly valued. And that shows up in the posting fee: the Twins had to bid a lot more than the Pirates did the first time around, because there was increased competition and they really wanted to bring Park into the fold. In bidding for Park initially, the Twins faced competition from the rest of the league. But because of the system, once the Twins were declared the winners and once Park’s Korean team accepted the bid, the Twins wound up with almost all the leverage. They were the only team that could negotiate, and all Park could do was threaten to go back and wait two years for free agency. Such a threat would’ve been almost empty.
Some have said the Twins took advantage of Park’s eagerness to try to play in the majors. Park himself says he’s content. Of course, Park wasn’t going to say anything else, and millions of dollars are millions of dollars. He’s getting a chance he might not have thought would be possible a few years ago. Like Kang, Park can make a difference for future Korean players, down the road. Park deserves more money, though. This isn’t what his market value would be. The Twins did take advantage, but not because they’re monsters — this is just how the system is, and no team would be willing to shower Park with money just because. This system doesn’t benefit the players. The Twins did what they had to, and no more. It’s something of a shame, and players should get more of the share in an ideal world, but now Park gets to be an everyday DH or first baseman at the highest level of baseball in the world, and he’ll have a whole country behind him. The point is, Park isn’t getting screwed.
The profile is what it was: Park can hit the crap out of the ball. His power is real, even if he won’t hit 50 homers a season in the majors, and he manages to pair some walks with his strikeouts. He’s said to be a decent first baseman. For the sake of quick comparison, the Orioles just picked up Mark Trumbo from the Mariners for basically nothing, and he figures to get about $9 million next year. The Astros might non-tender Chris Carter, who’s in line for a salary just under $6 million, but he should make around that much, wherever he goes. Trumbo, the last two years, has been a replacement-level player, by our WAR. Carter has a career mark of just over 2 WAR in just over 2,000 plate appearances. Given Park’s ability and upside, you can see he should get more. The posting fee, of course, is a big part of the Twins’ investment — it’s more than half of the investment — but Park sees none of that. Now I’m just repeating myself.
Byung-ho Park: interesting player, who might be a good player. The Twins will pay him very little, relatively speaking, through the rest of his career prime. Kang posted a 109 wRC+ in last year’s first half, and in the second half he jumped to 154. If Park adjusts anything like that, this is going to look fantastic. For, you know, the Twins.
Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.