According to Sports Illustrated‘s Jon Heyman, 36-year old Korean-born right-hander, Chan Ho Park, could be a free agent pitching possibility for the Cubs, Rays, and, most importantly (for the purposes of this blog), the Yankees.
Park was once a pretty good, albeit wild, starter for the Dodgers from 1997-2001, though he was famously bad for the Rangers once he made the move to the American League in 2002. After a dreadful stint in Texas, Park was traded to the Padres in 2005, but he was hindered by intestinal bleeding brought on by Meckels diverticulum and, as a result, his year and a half stay in San Diego was a disappointment. He then split minor-league time with the Mets and Astros in 2007 only to return to the Dodgers in 2008, where he posted a 2.85 FIP as a starter in 5 games and a 4.91 FIP as a reliever over 70 1/3 innings. The Phillies, in search of pitching depth, then signed Park for $2.5 million for 2009, where he was initially used a starter, however, his numbers in 7 starts – 5.59 FIP, 5.67 K/9, 4.95 BB/9 – were terrible, forcing the club to try him as a reliever. In the bullpen, Park’s fastball saw a big uptick in velocity – 92.2 mph versus 89.8 mph while in the rotation – and he pitched exceptionally well – 2.10 FIP, 9.36 K/9 over 50 innings – for a tattered Philadelphia bullpen. It is that performance that has some teams, including the Yankees (possibly), intrigued.
It is difficult to evaluate what Park really is, though. Is he actually a good reliever? It is hard to tell, and his 50 good innings with Philly in ’09 should not hold more weight than the 70 bad innings with LA in ’08. His career splits as a starter and a reliever appear promising, but, even so those numbers don’t necessarily mean anything as they have been cobbled together at random over a 16-season career. Assuming Heyman’s tweet is legitimate, if the Yankees were to actually add Park, it would have to be at an extremely low price, since they have ample pitching depth and have already maxed out their offseason budget. If they have to spend any real money on him, it won’t happen. Park has said that he would like to pitch for the Yankees earlier this winter, though, which is something to keep in mind.
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