Indians fall short in Park bidding
The Nexen Heroes made Park available to Major League teams via the posting system last week, setting a deadline of 5 p.m. ET on Friday. Cleveland was among the teams that submitted a blind bid, though the Tribe did not win the right to negotiate a contract with Park.
Reports out of Korea indicated that the Heroes accepted a top bid of $12.85 million, though the winning club has yet to be revealed. MLB.com learned Saturday morning that the Indians fell short of that price, which will give the top team an exclusive 30-day window to try to sign the first baseman.
It isn’t immediately known how much Cleveland bid for the right to talk to Park.
This past season, the 29-year-old Park hit .343 with 53 home runs and 146 RBIs in 140 games for Nexen. He launched 173 homers and knocked in 492 runs from 2012-15, though he also had 510 strikeouts in that time period. Park was the KBO MVP in 2012-13 and will likely win another for his work this past season.
Bidding on a player like Park makes sense for the Indians, who are not expected to be major players in free agency. Park would come at a lower annual rate than a similar Major League free agent and would not be tied to any Draft pick compensation. Cleveland’s top pick for the 2016 Draft (16th overall) is unprotected, so any free agents who decline Qualifying Offers (20 received a QO on Friday) would not only come at a high price financially, but would eliminate that first-round selection.
At first base, the Indians have the switch-hitting Carlos Santana ($8.25 million in 2016) and Chris Johnson ($7.5 million) for the time being, but each are trade candidates this winter. If both Santana and Johnson are back in ’16, they would also project to serve as a designated hitter at times, with Johnson also seeing innings at third base and potentially in the corner outfield spots. Johnson would primarily be used against left-handed pitching.
Cleveland has little wiggle room financially for any major free-agent additions this offseason, so the club will be looking more toward the trade market to address its need for an impact bat. Taking a flier on a player like Park also made sense. Given the success of Korean infielder Jung Ho Kang (posting fee of $5.1 million, followed by a four-year, $11-million contract) with the Pirates, though, Park’s price exceeded Cleveland’s comfort zone in a blind-bid scenario.