Park Byung-ho has signed with this year’s baseball champion KT Wiz. The Wiz announced on Wednesday that the former Kiwoom Heroes’ slugger and KBO League’s two-time MVP signed a three-year contract worth 3 billion won, consisting of 2 billion won in guaranteed salary with a 700-million-won signing bonus, and 300 million won in incentives.
Earlier, the Wiz had signed a free agent contract with the team’s captain Hwang Jae-gyun and announced that it would further look to sign free agent contracts. By scouting Park, the Wiz squad has found the final piece of the puzzle to the team’s second consecutive victory. Park showed a strong will to contribute to defending the Wiz’s champion title.
Park debuted in the KBO in 2005 playing for the LG Twins and moved in 2011 to the Nexen Heroes, now called the Kiwoom Heroes, where he made his name as one of the best hitters in the KBO League. Park won a home-run king title from 2012 to 2015, blasting 52 and 53 home runs in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Then Park went overseas and spent two seasons in the U.S. Major League with the Minnesota Twins. Park returned to the Kiwoom Heroes in 2018 and emerged as a middle-of-the-order masher, leading the Heroes to the postseason for four consecutive years. Park, however, batted only .226 in the past two years, stoking worries that his career might have started to decline on the aging curve. Nevertheless, Park still hit 41 dingers, showing that his name as a power hitter is still valid.
Following the retirement of Yoo Han-joon after the Wiz’s first victory in the Korean Series, the clubhouse has been looking for a seasoned veteran figure in the team. With Park’s joining the team, the Wiz has filled the team’s veteran position and, more importantly, is less worried about a first baseman position, currently occupied by prized slugger and cleanup hitter Kang Baek-ho, a 22-year-old, who is still adjusting to the position.
“The team desperately looked for a veteran home run hitter, who can lead younger players,” said the Wiz’s manager Lee Kang-chul. “Park is a valuable asset to the team and can take a lot of pressure off Kang Baek-ho.”
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