NYY→PIT→BOS→ATL…The ’25th Korean Big Leaguer’ is looking for a new team as an FA. Why wouldn’t it be easy to make a KBO U-turn

NYY→PIT→BOS→ATL…The ’25th Korean Big Leaguer’ is looking for a new team as an FA. Why wouldn’t it be easy to make a KBO U-turn

The Gwinnett Strikers, the minor league Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball (MLB), announced the names of 20 players on its website on July 7 (KST). Among them is shortstop Hyo-jun Park. Park is a free agent and will need to find a new team.굿모닝토토 도메인

Park signed with the New York Yankees in July 2014 for $1.16 million as a junior at Yatapo. After graduating from Yatapo and moving to the United States with dreams of playing in the major leagues, Park began his minor league career in 2015. He spent a long time in the minors and made his major league debut for the Yankees on July 17, 2021. He became the 25th Korean major leaguer in history.

But his joy was short-lived. After just one at-bat, he was sent back to the minors, and a few days later, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Park played one game for the Yankees that year and 44 games for Pittsburgh. In 45 games, he batted 1-for-9 with three home runs, 14 RBIs, and one stolen base.

He bounced back and forth between the major leagues and the minors. Last season, he batted .276 with two doubles, two home runs, and six RBIs in 23 major league games. That’s it for Park’s major league career. He didn’t see big league action until the 2023 season.

After being designated for assignment by Pittsburgh at the end of the 2022 season, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox, only to be designated for assignment again. He was then traded again to Atlanta. But he was designated for assignment again and remained in the minors.

This year, he played 101 minor league games for the Triple-A Gwinnett Strikers, hitting .385 with a .379 on-base percentage and .764 OPS with six home runs, 42 RBIs and 16 stolen bases. He didn’t play much in the big leagues after coming to the U.S., but in 754 minor league games, he batted .251 with 50 homers, 292 RBIs, a .365 on-base percentage, a .369 slugging percentage, and a .734 OPS.

In the future, he could be looking at not only a U.S. team, but also a KBO turnaround. In defense, Park played mostly in the infield, but also in the outfield. In the majors, he played 27 games at second base, and in the minors, he played 242 games (240 starts) at shortstop.

He’s definitely a player to keep an eye on. However, he won’t be able to play in the KBO right away. The KBO has a rule that players who go directly to a foreign league without going through the rookie draft are not allowed to sign with a domestic team for two years after their contract with the foreign team ends.

One option is to spend those two years in the military and then take a chance on playing in the KBO. Park Hyo-joon also has to deal with military service. He’s still young, born in 1996.

There are many players in the Korean big leagues who will need to find a new team after this season. Ryu Hyun-jin, who played in Toronto, is a free agent. San Diego’s Choi Ji-Man also needs to find a new team. Lee Jung-hoo is preparing to move to the U.S. with a posting system. Where will Park Hyo-joon and other Korean players play next year?

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