Notes: Who knows what to expect from Korean slugger Byung Ho Park?
BOCA RATON, Fla. — The intriguing thing about Byung Ho Park is that the exit velocity off his bat in Korea rivaled that of top major leaguers, according to officials with two teams that pursued him.
The scary thing about Park is that his swing is long, he strikes out a ton and the pitchers he faced in Korea do not throw nearly as hard as the ones he will see in the majors.
The Twins, after winning the rights to Park on Monday with a bid of $12.85 million, have 30 days to sign him. At least two other clubs were in the $11 million range, sources say, so it’s not as if the Twins were the only team willing to gamble on the player.
The success of Jung Ho Kang with the Pirates last season changed the perspective of some club officials who were skeptical that Korean hitters could succeed in the majors. But no two players are alike, and not even the Twins would say that Park is a sure thing.
Park hit 53 homers in Korea last season. Eric Thames, a player who lasted just two seasons in the majors, hit 47. And while Park’s exit velocity legitimizes his power, it will mean little if he fails to make consistent contact.
Two other notes on Park:
● Some teams were surprised that a high-revenue team did not post the highest bid, considering that posting fees do not count against a team’s luxury-tax payroll.
● Park is playing for Korea in the Premier 12 international tournament that will conclude on Nov. 21, before his negotiating period with the Twins is over. The risk of injury is considerable, but for Park the pull of national pride evidently was stronger.
Other notes from the GM meetings:
● Part of Jason Heyward’s appeal is that he will play next season at 26, but Justin Upton is only two years older with a career .473 slugging mark to Heyward’s .431.
Some who know Upton also believe he will benefit from playing for a different team than his brother, Melvin Upton Jr. The two were teammates in Atlanta and San Diego the past three seasons, and the theory is that Melvin’s acute struggles made it difficult on Justin.
Is there a metric that covers sibling psychology?
● The Diamondbacks ideally want to add two starting pitchers, but do not expect to play at the top of the market. Even Jordan Zimmermann could prove too expensive if he tops $20 million per season — the D-backs would prefer a free agent in the $15 million to $18 million range, and perhaps another starter in a trade.
Rival clubs are "all over" the D-backs’ outfielders in trade discussions, according to one club official, and the team also is drawing interest in its young infielders. The D-backs have talked previously about adding a closer, but now seem content to keep Brad Ziegler in that role and build the bullpen in front of him.
● The Indians declined to trade any of their starting pitchers at the non-waiver deadline, when they were out of contention. They might be even more reluctant to move a Carlos Carrasco or Danny Salazar this off-season as they try to build upon their 36-26 finish.
The problem is that the Indians needed an outfielder even before announcing Monday that Michael Brantley will be out until late April or early May after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder.
The only other outfielders on their 40-man roster are Abraham Almonte, Lonnie Chisenhall, Michael Choice, Jerry Sands and Zach Walters.
● Part of the Angels’ thinking in declining to make David Freese a qualifying offer is that it would have been a poor way for new general manager Billy Eppler to begin his relationship with the free-agent third baseman.
Sounds odd, considering that the QO is for one year and $15.8 million. The offer, though, would have damaged Freese in the marketplace, forcing teams to part with a draft pick to sign him.
The Angels, who have interest in re-signing Freese at a lower rate, wanted to keep the dialogue as cordial as possible, even though they’re making it easier for other clubs to sign him.
● Left-hander Rich Hill is a surprisingly hot free agent, considering that he made only four starts last season, all after Sept. 12. Those four starts, though, were brilliant — Hill struck out 36 in 29 innings, walked only five and produced a 1.55 ERA.
Not bad for a pitcher who had not started a major-league game since 2009, made his first appearance last season for the independent Long Island Ducks and endured a number of injuries and the loss of an infant son in spring training 2014.
Hill, 35, is generating enough interest that it now appears likely he will secure a major-league contract.