Blue is the new red

Yohei Oshima of the Chunichi Dragons.

On Thursday, Dec. 18, Chunichi Dragons center fielder Yohei Oshima caved in and agreed to a contract for ¥74 million for the 2015 season in the third meeting in which the team failed to budge from their original offer.

The 29-year-old is an excellent fielder, whose offensive numbers are diminished by playing at Nagoya Dome.  A year ago, with Oshima coming off an injury-affected season that saw him bat just .248, Chunichi gave him the largest pay cut they could without giving him the option of turning it down in favor of becoming a free agent. His new salary is ¥1 million shy of his deal for the 2013 season.

He said he considered going to arbitration but his wife talked him out of it. Arbitration in Japan is not a one-way street. In the past, the arbitrators have done a fair job of trying to see when a player is underpaid compared to his peers.

So the question is who are his most comparable peers and what are they paid?

Based on what they did in 2014, the most similar players in offensive and defensive value (using Win Shares)  were, with their salaries this past season:

Year League Player Age Batting WS Fielding WS Raw WS Total Salary
2014 CL Takayuki Kajitani 25 13.15 3.24 16.39 ¥23,000,000
2014 PL Yuya Hasegawa 29 12.59 3.11 15.70 ¥200,000,000
2014 CL Ryosuke Hirata 26 11.74 3.89 15.63 ¥35,000,000
2014 CL Yohei Oshima 28 11.33 3.98 15.32 ¥56,250,000
2014 PL Shogo Akiyama 26 12.03 3.25 15.28 ¥65,000,000
2014 PL Nobuhiro Matsuda 31 11.54 3.01 14.55 ¥200,000,000
2014 CL Shingo Kawabata 26 11.45 3.10 14.55 ¥56,000,000

If you can’t see this table, it’s also here: http://jballallen.com/blueisreddata.pdf

Kajitani’s salary was doubled to ¥46 million for next year after leading the CL in stolen bases. Kawabata got a raise to ¥85 million. Hirata signed for a ¥12 million raise at ¥47 million, Akiyama took a ¥3 million pay cut, Matsuda  remained at ¥200 million for the 2nd year of his 2-year-deal after being hurt for much of 2014, while Hasegawa has yet to sign.

All in all, Oshima is pretty much on a par with his peers — as long as you don’t include Softbank or Yomiuri, who are pretty liberal with the cash.

The Dragons are going to use whatever excuse they can to cut your salary, so you better hit for average. As for the title, I suppose some of you got it, since the red-cladHiroshima Carp are famous for their tight-fisted dealings with their players. The Dragons, whose parent company is a newspaper, the Chunichi Shinbun, have been cutting costs like crazy the past two seasons.

Hiroshima center fielder Yoshihiro Maru was the CL’s best outfielder last season and just saw his pay increase from ¥51 million to ¥90 million. If he played for Yomiuri, he’d be making at least as much as Giants center fielder Hisayoshi Chono (¥180 million), who’s not nearly as good.