Late yesterday afternoon David Price, one of the world’s best pitchers signed the largest contract by a starting pitcher in MLB history. A whopping $217 million contract, for 7 years that guarantees Price to be wearing a Red Sox jersey for the foreseeable future. December 1st 2015 will be remembered as the day the Red Sox got their ace, but the Red Sox weren’t the only ones to get a potential All-Star yesterday.Overshadowed by the David Price signing, Byung-ho Park signed a 4 year $12 million contract with the Minnesota Twins. Park, who will be 30 in July, will likely see time as the Twins’ designated hitter and first baseman, sharing those two duties with Joe Mauer. Park broke out in the Korean League at 25 years old in when he batted .290 and hit 31 home runs. Since then, Park has averaged 47 homers per season and has hit an out of this world .322. In 2015, Park did especially well with 53 home runs while batting .343. Park could be a big addition to an already very powerful lineup in Minneapolis, which already includes the likes of Brian Dozier and Miguel Sano.
Many compare Parks’ hitting ability to his close friend, Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop, Jung-Ho Kang. Kang, 29 in April, was in a similar scenario last year when he signed a deal with the Pirates and had to make the same transition from the Korean league that Park will make in 2016. If you compare both of their stat lines in their final seasons in the Korean league they both have a similar batting averages, but Park had 13 more home runs than Kang. These statistics could possibly predict what is too come from Park. In Kang’s rookie year he batted a very good .287 and hit 15 home runs and played only 126 games. This was good enough for 4.0 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) which according to the Baseball Reference scale is nearly an All-Star performance. He came in 3rd for the Rookie of the Year in the National League behind two exceptional players in Kris Bryant and Matt Duffy.
It’s hard to expect numbers as good as Kang’s despite the fact that Park was a better hitter in Korea, but it’s also hard to rule them out. Park has more power in his bat then Kang, and has the potential to be much more of a power threat than Kang at the Major League level. If Byung-Ho Park’s game transitions well to the MLB, than the Twins can have another slugger in their already potent lineup.