South Korean Baseball Player Park Byung Ho To Go to MLB Majors
Michael Song, Nov. 2, 2015, 7:46 a.m.
The top South Korean baseball league said Monday it requested Major League Baseball (MLB) to make slugger Park Byung-ho available in posting for big league clubs. Earlier in the day, the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) was notified of Park's status by his current club, the Nexen Heroes, and asked MLB to inform its 30 clubs of Park's availability in the league-wide silent auction.
MLB clubs will have four business days to submit their bids for the power-hitting first baseman. MLB will later notify the KBO of the highest bid, and the Heroes will have four business days to accept or reject it. One of the KBO's premier power hitters, Park is coming off another productive season, leading the league with 53 home runs and 146 RBIs, a single-season record. He has attracted scouts from at least a dozen big league teams throughout the season.
If the Heroes accept the highest bid, then the winning MLB bidder will have the exclusive right to negotiate with Park for 30 days. If the Heroes reject the bid, Park will be ruled ineligible for posting until Nov. 1, 2016. The identity of the winning bidder and the amount of the bid will also not be disclosed. Should Park and the winning bidder reach an agreement, the Heroes will pocket the posting fee. If they can't come to a deal, Park will be off the market and can't be posted again until next November, while the Heroes won't get any money.
Park, who debuted in 2005 and completed the equivalent of seven full seasons in 2015, is the first KBO player to be posted this offseason. Two other players, outfielder Son Ah-seop and infielder Hwang Jae-gyun, both of the Lotte Giants, have asked their team to post them. Since a KBO club may only post one player at a time, the Giants said they'd make Son available first, likely sometime next month.
Park is trying to be the second South Korean position player to jump from the KBO to the big leagues, after his former Nexen teammate Kang Jung-ho, now an infielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates. They share Octagon as their agency. Park made his KBO debut with the LG Twins in 2005 but didn't become an everyday player until a midseason trade to the Heroes in 2011.
He blossomed into an All-Star slugger in 2012, leading the KBO with 31 home runs and 105 RBIs and winning his first MVP award. Park repeated as the MVP in 2013, with new career highs of 37 home runs and 117 RBIs and a .318 average. Last year, Park became only the third KBO player with a 50-homer season, belting 52 long balls and driving in 124 runs while finishing second in the MVP voting.
Park is the first KBO player to lead the league in home runs and RBIs in four straight seasons and to hit 50 or more home runs in back-to-back seasons. He is up for the MVP award again this year. In addition to 53 homers and 146 RBIs this year, Park set career highs with a .343 batting average, a .714 slugging percentage, 181 hits, 129 runs scored and 35 doubles.
He has also been a durable player and has missed only four games since the start of the 2012 season -- all of them coming this season. Park got some reps at third base in spring training and the regular season, apparently to expand his options.