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Kim and Park, hurting abroad, may soon return

Aug 17,2017
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Park Byung-ho of the Rochester Redwings Class AAA. Kim Hyun-soo of the Philadelphia Phillies. [YONHAP, AP/YONHAP]
Despite high expectations from their success in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), Kim Hyun-soo of the Philadelphia Phillies and Park Byung-ho of the Rochester Redwings Class AAA, a minor league affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, are struggling, and now, many are discussing their possible return to Korea.

Since Kim got traded to the Phillies, he has a 0.125 batting average with three hits in 11 games as of Tuesday. Though Kim is given more chance to play for the Phillies, he is playing a lot worse than when he played with the Baltimore Orioles this season, when he had a 0.232 batting average with 29 hits in 56 games.

For Kim, who signed a two-year major league contract with the Orioles in 2015 at $7 million, this is the last year of his big league contract. Since he is playing below expectation with the Phillies, it is uncertain whether his contract will be renewed.

And Park, who still hasn’t gotten back to the major league this season, is also struggling. Currently, Park plays for the Rochester Red Wings of the Class AAA International League, recording a 0.260 batting average with ten home runs and 47 RBIs in 91 games this season.

Though the fans had quite high expectations for Park, he failed to perform during his first season, struggling against fastballs and injured his hand. During his major league rookie season, he had a 0.191 batting average with 12 home runs and 24 RBIs.

Upon completion of the 2016 season, Park focused on changing his batting form and showed significant improvement during the spring training exhibition games, when he recorded a 0.353 batting average with six homes runs and 13 RBIs. But the Twins decided not to add Park to their entry list.

As the Twins still haven’t called Park, local media have lowered their expectations on seeing him in the major league for the rest of the season.

That said, there is a high possibility of the two returning to the KBO, though they are in completely different situations. Since Kim will be a free agent (FA) upon completion of the 2017 season, he can negotiate his contract in the major league, KBO or Japanese league.

On the other hand, it is unlikely for Park to be transfer to a different team, as he signed a four-year, $12 million contract with the Twins through the posting system on Dec. 1, 2015. For Park to return to the KBO, he has to negotiate with the Twins regarding the remaining payments in the contract, and once he does return, Park will only be able to join his former team Nexen Heroes since he is not a FA player yet.

BY PARK SO-YOUNG [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]