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Byung Ho Park designated for assignment by Twins

To clear room on their 40 man roster, the Twins DFA’d their disappointing slugger, who will likely remain in the organization.

Miami Marlins v Minnesota Twins Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

In a surprising move, the Twins have designated former Korean slugger Byung Ho Park for assignment today to make room for the recently signed Matt Belisle. Park was posted last year out of the Korean Baseball Organization, and Minnesota won the bidding with a $12 million offer. Minnesota signed Park for a matching $12 million over four years, and were hoping he could serve as a first baseman and DH for a club lacking right-handed power.

His first season, unfortunately, was a debacle. Park hit monstrous homers in Spring Training and in April of last year, and was hitting .268/.344/.598 through May 6. But a hand injury (and possibly the league catching up to him) sent him into a tailspin, and he hit just .143/3.232/.293 through the end of June, when he was outrighted to Rochester. Park struggled there as well, hitting just .224/.297/.526 before finally, mercifully, being put on the disabled list in August.

The Park signing was the brainchild of the previous Twins’ leadership team, and was odd at the time given that the club already had a first baseman (Joe Mauer) and a potential designated hitter (Kennys Vargas). So Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have no attachment to the first baseman, going so far as to tell him not to attend TwinsFest last week according to Mike Berardino of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, making his DFA far more likely than it would have otherwise been.

That said, the Twins will not be rid of Park. Even though he will only make $3 million, it’s unlikely another team will claim such a one-dimensional slugger. Instead, he’ll pass through waivers and be assigned to the Rochester Red Wings.

It’s actually a pretty smart move by Falvey and Levine, and another sign the new regime thinks things through on a different level than their predecessors. Park’s DFA carries little risk he’ll be lost (and if he is, c’est la vie), and his contract is not a terrible burden on the small-payroll franchise. He’ll get a Spring Training invitation and will likely see extensive time as the new Minnesota brain trust tries to figure out just what they have in the big Korean. His contract doesn’t prevent him from being optioned out to Triple A at the end of March, and it will be easy enough to find room on the 40 man roster for him if he is healthy and does make the club.