First baseman/designated hitter Byung Ho Park has cleared waivers and been outrighted off the Twins’ 40-man roster, reports La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The team has since announced the move. Park will be in camp with the Twins as a non-roster invitee in Spring Training.
Park was somewhat surprisingly designated for assignment last week in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for right-hander Matt Belisle, who signed as a free agent. However, the guaranteed $9.25MM remaining on Park’s contract allowed him to pass through waivers unclaimed, and he’ll now remain with the Twins and vie for a job in camp or early this season after getting in some work with the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate in Rochester.
The 30-year-old Park was a superstar in the Korea Baseball Organization prior to being posted by the Nexen Heroes, and the Twins secured exclusive negotiation rights with him in December 2015 by submitting a blind bid of $12.85MM. Minnesota and Park’s representatives at Octagon worked out a four-year, $12MM contract that came with a fifth-year club option, and Park was penciled in as Minnesota’s primary DH heading into the 2016 campaign.
Park rallied after a slow first week and was hitting .257/.339/.578 with nine homers through his first 124 plate appearances. Strikeouts were a problem for Park from the get-go, however, and his production fell off the table before a June demotion to Triple-A. With Rochester, Park was eventually sidelined by a wrist injury that ultimately required surgical repair. The slugger wouldn’t blame his struggles in the Majors on the injury, though it’s certainly possible that Park’s ailing wrist/hand contributed to his .191/.275/.409 slash in the Majors.