It's not Christmas yet, but the Minnesota Twins might have provided fans with an early gift by signing Byung Ho Park to a four-year contract. The three-time MVP of the Korea Baseball Organization was introduced at a press conference Wednesday, where he said – in English – that he wants to "win a championship."
With Park comes a ton of potential and a lot of questions, but Twins general manager Terry Ryan wants to make Park's transition to big-league pitching as seamless as possible.
The Twins think Park, being 29 and not a 19-year-old rookie, will adjust faster than a normal first-year player; Park thinks he can adjust within a month of facing the best pitching the planet has to offer.
"This guy can swing the bat," Ryan said. "He's going to help provide some of the offense we lost with Torii Hunter (retiring)."
Twins executive Mike Radcliff added that they have a "lot of conviction and believe he'll be a very productive player."
How productive? Park has clubbed 105 homers over the past two seasons with the Nexen Heroes of the KBO.
Jung Ho Kang of the Pittsburgh Pirates, a 28-year-old, struggled early last season – his first in the MLB after playing in the KBO – before the switch clicked and he finished hitting .287 with 15 home runs and 58 RBI.
Kang hit 40 homers in 117 games in his final season (as Park's teammate) in Korea, but he didn't flash the consistent season-by-season power that Park has.
Plouffe at 3B, Mauer at 1B, Sano to the OF
Minnesota appears content with the offense heading into the 2016 season. Trevor Plouffe is expected to start at third base while Joe Mauer plays first, Park works as the primary designated hitter and Miguel Sano moves to the outfield.
"We've got some thump in our lineup," Ryan said.