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Byung-ho Park close to signing with Twins?

Reports have emerged this weekend, indicating that a deal could be close between the Twins and the Korean slugger.

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Speculation picked up earlier this weekend when it was revealed that Byung-ho Park was on his way to Minnesota to meet with the Twins. Nearly three weeks ago it was announced that the Twins had won exclusive negotiation rights with Park with their $12.85 million posting bid. The deadline for the teams to come to an agreement is 4pm central on December 8, which is still more than a week away, but there's no doubt that both sides would prefer to find common ground before then.

Earlier today, this developing story took another step forward as the Yonhap News Agency posted comments from Parkas he was meeting with reporters at the Incheon International Airport. While Phil Miller reported that Park's contract would be in the $5 to $10 million per year range, Park (in the Yonhap story linked above) seemed to downplay that news:

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported earlier that Park is believed to be seeking a multiyear deal and will earn "likely somewhere between $5-10 million per season." The player himself said the offer fell short of what the media have reported or what the fans may have expected, but added, "It certainly doesn't mean I am not satisfied with the offer."

Park's contract will go a long way towards forming public opinion on his acquisition. MLB Trade Rumors' Tim Dierkes predicted a five-year, $40 million dollar contract. While it isn't exactly fair for there to be an outright comparison to Tsuyoshi Nishioka, it's also true that the results of foreign free agents have been mixed - just like the results of any free agent in baseball history. Some hit and some miss. An AAV of $8 million doesn't seem too frivolous for a player with Park's tools, even if there are additional mitigating circumstances in projecting his production, but if he's is saying that the offer is less than reported then perhaps the offered AAV is closer to $5 million.

Whatever the specifics of Minnesota's existing offer, the fact that Park is coming to Minneapolis to take a physical is promising. It indicates that both sides have a vested interest in completing the deal, and Park himself sounds very optimistic about his visit.

For a couple of years, as Twins fans we've been dreaming on the power of young and inexpensive hitters Miguel Sano, Oswaldo Arcia, and Kennys Vargas. Signing Park would represent a shift in how the Twins view the middle of their lineup over the next few years, and that's something that will be worth talking about once (if) Park's deal is consummated this week.