UPDATE: Never mind. Multiple sources, including Park’s agent now saying that the Pirates rumor is baloney. We now return you to our regularly scheduled offseason.
UPDATE: Not so fast. Buster Olney is hearing that the Pirates did not win the bidding. So stand down, stay tuned or whatever it is you do with yourself when you’re waiting for mildly interesting trade rumors to resolve themselves.
8:09 AM: C.J. Nitkowski of Fox is hearing that the Pittsburgh Pirates have won the bidding for the right to negotiate with Korean slugger Byung-ho Park.
We’re still waiting for some confirmation from a team or league official, but on Friday it was reported that the Nexen Heroes accepted a $12.85MM bid following their posting of Park. Since then there have been multiple reports of which teams did not win the bidding, but no report, until now, of who had. The Pirates were not one of those clubs said to be out of the running. Also unknown was the status of bids submitted by the Phillies, Brewers, Reds, Cubs, White Sox, Twins and Astros.
If the Pirates did win the bidding and do manage to come to terms with Park they will have an intriguing addition to their club. Park, 29, has hit 50-plus home runs with a 120-plus RBI and an average above .300 in each of his last two seasons. While most suspect that his numbers will come down dramatically upon facing much tougher competition in the less hitter-friendly environment of Major League Baseball, it’s worth remembering that Pirates’ infielder Jung Ho Kang did not experience anything near the falloff he was expected to suffer and, indeed, showed himself to be a pretty fantastic major leaguer. Which, of course, is also likely to make Park more expensive for the Pirates than Kang, who posted for $5 million and sighed a four-year, $11 million deal, was.
Regardless, the Pirates are looking for an upgrade at first base as they are likely to either trade or non-tender Pedro Alvarez. Worth noting that they have a great hitting prospect in Josh Bell at Triple-A right now, but he is a converted outfielder playing first base and he still doesn’t really have a handle on first base, it seems. It’s possible that the Pirates, who are obviously poised to contend in 2016, don’t want to wait for young Mr. Bell to finish developing before plugging the first base hole. It’s also possible that Bell is really a DH and the Pirates will try to deal him for pitching or something.
Anyway, the Pirates struck gold in Korea last winter. If this report holds up, it looks like they’re trying to do so once again.