The ByungHo Park experiment appears to be over.
According to a person with direct knowledge, the disappointing slugger has asked the Twins for his release so he can return home to the Korea Baseball Organization.
The Twins are expected to grant Park his release, but the person cautioned Sunday night that talks were ongoing and “it will be a while before it is all worked out.”
The Nexen Heroes, for whom Park slugged 105 homers in his final two seasons and won a pair of league MVP awards before that, have agreed to pay the first baseman $1.4 million in U.S. dollars for 2018, according to the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency.
Park was due $6.5 million from the Twins over the next two seasons, including a $500,000 buyout on a club option in 2020.
Without a buyout to offset the difference, Park could be leaving as much as $5.1 million on the table, although much of that difference could be made up with future earnings on and off the field in the KBO.
“He’s a very proud man and he wants to play — not in the minor leagues,” a person who has worked closely with Park said Sunday night.
Reports out of Seoul had Park walking away from his entire remaining obligation from the Twins, who have paid $18.35 million total so far for two seasons and 12 big-league homers.
That scenario could be premature as the Twins, Park’s representatives and the KBO continue to discuss a number of details regarding the transaction.
Signed to a four-year, $12 million deal that included an $12.85 million posting fee to the Nexen club, Park struggled with a wrist issue in the first half that season and managed to drive in just 24 runs in 62 games.
Park, 31, never made it back to the major leagues after hitting .191 with 12 homers in 215 at-bats for the Twins in the first three months of 2016.
He spent six weeks at Triple-A after a July 1 demotion before undergoing season-ending surgery on his right hand in August 2016.
Outrighted off the 40-man roster after clearing waivers in early February, Park spent all of 2017 at Triple-A Rochester after missing a month early in the year with a strained hamstring.
Park hit .253 with a .308 on-base percentage and a .415 slugging percentage; he hit just 14 home runs in 111 games while striking out 28.6 percent of the time.
Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told the Pioneer Press in late September that Park had handled his struggles “incredibly professionally” and had given no indication he was looking to bail on his North American efforts.
“We have every expectation he’ll remain at this point,” Falvey said.
“He’s a guy who’s obviously had a lot of success. He’s had some ups and downs now in his career over here. I think he knows that. I view it similarly. He needs to focus and grow in different spaces and control what he can control, which is play and be the best he can be.
“What he can’t control are the opportunities here. That’s something we want to make sure he understands. If the time presents or the opportunity presents, we want him to be ready when the time comes.”
Park, who has a young family, was said to be planning a full winter of workouts in the Twin Cities. In the past two months, apparently, something changed Park’s mind.