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Report: Park returning to play in Korea

MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- First baseman ByungHo Park and the Twins are working on a deal that would facilitate his return to South Korea to play for his former club, the Nexen Heroes.

Nexen has agreed to sign Park to a one-year deal worth $1.4 million, according to Yonhap News Agency in South Korea, but the Twins and Park are still facilitating the move because Park is owed $6.5 million over the next two seasons by Minnesota. Park was officially released by the Twins on Friday.

MINNEAPOLIS -- First baseman ByungHo Park and the Twins are working on a deal that would facilitate his return to South Korea to play for his former club, the Nexen Heroes.

Nexen has agreed to sign Park to a one-year deal worth $1.4 million, according to Yonhap News Agency in South Korea, but the Twins and Park are still facilitating the move because Park is owed $6.5 million over the next two seasons by Minnesota. Park was officially released by the Twins on Friday.

Hot Stove Tracker

Park, a two-time MVP in the Korea Baseball Organization who hit a combined 105 homers in his final two seasons there, was unable to make an impact with the Twins after signing a four-year deal worth $12 million before the 2016 season that also saw Minnesota pay a $12.85 million posting fee to Nexen. The move gives the Twins roster and payroll flexibility as they look for a veteran right-handed bat with power who can serve as a part-time designated hitter.

The Twins simply couldn't count on Park to serve in that role next season. He didn't reach the Majors in 2017 and remained off the 40-man roster while hitting .253/.308/.415 with 14 homers and 60 RBIs in 111 games at Triple-A Rochester.

In his lone season in the Majors, Park hit .191/.275/.409 with 12 homers and 24 RBIs in 62 games in 2016. Minnesota sent him to Triple-A after his slow start, and he batted .224/.297/.526 with 10 homers and 19 RBIs in 31 games before undergoing season-ending right wrist surgery that August.

Video: MIN@CLE: Park's eighth homer measured at 458 feet

The Twins designated Park for assignment last offseason, but he went unclaimed and came into Spring Training competing for a job as the club's DH. Park had a strong spring and looked to be the favorite, but he was left off the roster with Robbie Grossman serving as DH.

With Joe Mauer, Miguel Sano, Kennys Vargas and Grossman still on the roster and the Twins looking for another right-handed bat, Park didn't figure to get much playing time this season. Park, though, was expected to spend part of the offseason training in Minnesota to get ready for next year, so the move is still a bit of a surprise, especially considering he's still under contract for two more seasons with the Twins.

Park, 31, can now return to Nexen where he was a fan favorite in Seoul and the best power hitter in the KBO. He's a career .281/.387/.564 hitter with 210 homers and 604 RBIs in 868 games in Korea.

Worth noting

TwinsFest tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. CT on Monday. It'll be held at Target Field from Jan. 19-21, with more than 60 current, former and future Twins players expected to appear throughout the course of the weekend.

• Former Twins right-hander LaTroy Hawkins, who serves as a special assistant to the organization, will be inducted into the Indiana High School Hall of Fame on Jan. 27.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minnesota Twins, ByungHo Park