The open free agency period isn't even a full day old and the Orioles have already missed out on at least one player they targeted. Korean first baseman Byung-ho Park is up for consideration under the posting process. The O's made a bid on Park, but they are known to not be the winning team, according to Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun. The winning bid is $12.85 million, which Park's KBO team, Nexen Heroes, has chosen to accept. The identity of the winning team isn't yet known.
Teams had to secretly submit bids for a posting fee, which will be paid to Nexen. The $12.85 million bidder gets the right to negotiate with the player exclusively for a month. If they don't reach a contract with Park, they don't have to pay the posting fee, either. A contract with Park is a separate expense from the posting fee.
This process is very similar to what was in effect between MLB and Japan's NPB league before they agreed to set a cap at $20 million for the posting fees. There's no such cap in effect with KBO players, though if more of them start coming over and generating higher and higher bids, you might see the same limit placed.
Park, 29, is coming off of a season in the KBO where he batted .343/.436/.714 and he has combined for 105 home runs in the last two seasons. That's impressive, although the league has a reputation as a hitter's league. As MLB Trade Rumors notes, Eric Thames, who couldn't break in as an MLB regular, just recently posted a .381/.497/.790 season. Thames was actually in the O's organization for two months back in 2013, but he slumped heavily in his time in Norfolk, batting only .252/.315/.356.
In his most recent MLB action, Thames batted .232/.273/.399. That was in 2012. Thames jumped over to KBO's NC Dinos in 2014 and immediately batted .343/.422/.688 while hitting 37 home runs. Maybe he has improved in some way since being in the American professional ranks, but you can get a pretty good sense of the inflation that's going on there.
On the other hand, the first-year MLB success of Pirates shortstop Jung-Ho Kang, who came over from Nexen just last offseason through the same process, means teams may be more likely to consider that the best talent of Korea can compete in MLB. Kang's posting fee was only $5 million and he signed a four year contract with $11 million guaranteed.
As far as the O's, it's interesting that they were interested, but it's not surprising that they didn't win with the winning bid at about $13 million. While MLBTR projects a relatively modest contract for Park of five years, $40 million, the posting fee money would probably also come out of this offseason's budget. So, unless we find out otherwise, it seems safe to assume they weren't ever going to be serious players at that price.
They'd still have to have committed $21 million this offseason to have Park on next year's team, and that's money that can't go to the starting rotation, or, for that matter, Chris Davis.