Byung-ho Park to Start 2017 Season at AAA Rochester
I saw that Byung-ho Park didn’t make the Minnesota Twins out of Spring Training and will instead be starting the season at AAA Rochester. For most of the off-season, I thought that the best thing for Park would probably be to spend 40 to 60 games to start this season in AAA, where he could play every day and quite literally get up to speed on MLB system baseball. Now, I’m not quite so sure.
In Spring Training, Park hit six home runs and posted a 1.159 OPS, which was the best for any Twins player with at least 25 plate appearances, and Park had more than twice that many. I’m a strong believer that players who have great Spring Trainings should be rewarded with a roster spot, particularly if they are players who are already damned close to being major league players.
I’ve also heard that the new management team the Twins hired this off-season aren’t particularly enamored with Park and see his signing as a mistake made by the old administration. To me, that makes no sense, since the commitment to Park at this point ($9.25 million guaranteed over the next three seasons, plus a very affordable $6.5 million option for 2020) is such a bargain in today’s game, particularly for a guy who showed so much power potential (22 HRs in 372 at-bats at the major league and AAA level) in an otherwise forgettable season.
Maybe Park has finally gotten up to speed and is now ready to have a reasonably successful major league career. That said, in the greater scheme of things 40 to 60 AAA games isn’t a big deal so long as Park doesn’t get discouraged or hurt. If Park hits well at AAA Rochester, it’s fairly certain that someone in Minneapolis will get hurt or won’t hit on what looks fairly certain to be another well below .500 Twins’ ballclub.
Park’s power is very real, and I’m still convinced he could be a productive player relative to the financial commitment the Twins made to him. What I would hate to see is Park not get every reasonable opportunity to prove he can be a major league player because the Twins’ new management sees him as a holdover mistake by the management team they replaced.
Since the money has already been spent, why not at least see if you can get something out of your investment no matter how much you might now see the original signing as a mistake? Even if you don’t like Park’s overall game, if he can prove himself a major league hitter, you might be able to trade him and his affordable contract off for somebody you really want next off-season.