The madness that was the Pittsburgh Pirates’ pursuit of Byung-Ho Park


With the news coming Sunday that the winning $12.85 million bid for KBO star Byung ho Park and his services had been placed, fans in many cities were combing through twitter at record paces. As beat reporters and national baseball writers named the teams that were NOT in the running, Pittsburgh Pirates fans got excited at the possibility of Byung ho Park joining his former Nexen Heroes teammate Jung ho Kang in PNC Park.

This morning all hell broke loose.

I was driving this morning while listening to MLB Network Radio, and heard C.J. Nitkowski report that his sources told him that the Pirates had won the bid for Park.

This would seem to make some sense. Nitkowski is well-known for pitching overseas in both Japan and South Korea once his MLB career was finished. Surely his connections were solid. Pirates fans began rejoicing and some even offered to help Pedro Alvarez pack his bags for greener pastures.

Then, with one fell swoop, Buster Olney of ESPN threw a huge bucket of water on everyone’s fiery takes.

The local guys got in the act as well, with Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review confirming that the Pirates lost out.

The hopes were dashed as quickly as they came, and for now it appears that the Pittsburgh Pirates will not have Byung ho Park in tow for 2016.

Is that such a bad thing? Are fans so blinded by Alvarez’s poor defense that they would be willing to go into spring training with a Park/Mike Morse combination? And what would this do to Josh Bell and his transition to first base? These are all valid questions and they deserve consideration. Some would point to Kang’s transition as concrete evidence that Park can make it in the majors, and that Neal Huntington has found the next great market inefficiency to exploit.

It should not be forgotten that Kang needed a transition period to adjust his timing for the MLB game. With the luxury of having Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer in tow, Kang could learn the American game and ease his way into the major leagues. Park would have no such opportunity, as he would be thrown into what could be called a platoon at the very least. Combined with Bell’s continuing maturation process that will likely see a 2016 callup at some point, the pursuit of Byung ho Park never quite made sense to begin with.

UPDATE: The Minnesota Twins have won the bidding rights to Park