2021 offseason starts

The first business day after the Japan Series marks the start of the offseason for players with regular NPB contracts, so here’s a brief and not quite comprehensive rundown of that news.

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The free agent market

Here are the list of free-agency-eligible players who have not publicly committed to remaining with their clubs.

  • RHP Tomoyuki Sugano, Yomiuri Giants
  • C Ryutaro Umeno, Hanshin Tigers
  • RHP Katsuki Matayoshi, Chunichi Dragons
  • RHP Yasuaki Yamasaki, DeNA BayStars
  • LHP Shinya Kayama, SoftBank Hawks
  • C Masatoshi Okada, Seibu Lions

Sugano was posted last season but declined offers and returned to Japan for a 2021 season when he struggled with fitness but was often extremely sharp. The other players are all eligible to file only for domestic free agency, which would prevent them from filing again for another three years. Repeat after me: Japanese free agency sucks for the players.

Masahiro Tanaka will technically not be a free agent but ostensibly is able to go back to the States if he so desires.

Moinelo’s coming back: report

Livan Moinelo, to the disappointment of some MLB teams, appears poised to sign a three-year extension with the SoftBank Hawks, Sports Hochi reported Sunday. The 25-year-old left-handed reliever will reportedly get a bump from the 250 million yen ($2 million) a year he reportedly earned in 2021.

The story said the Hawks hope to resign slugging third baseman/outfielder Yurisbel Gracial and outfielder Alfredo Despaigne, both of whom were sorely missed for much of the season.

Fighters to dump three key players

The Nippon Ham Fighters played better in the second half, are cutting some ties with their past. They have told outfielders Haruki Nishikawa and Taishi Ota and former closer Ryo Akiyoshi they will not be back next season and have cut pitcher Robbie Erlin and infielder Ronny Rodriguez.

The Hiroshima Carp have told the bulk of their foreign contingent, pitchers Kyle Bird, Tayler Scott and Dovydas Neverauskas are not expected to receive contracts, nor are first baseman Kevin Cron or corner infielder Alejandro Mejia.

The Seibu Lions are parting ways with pitchers Reed Garrett, Zach Neal, Matt Dermody and infielder-outfielder Cory Spangenberg, while the Rakuten Eagles are not currently asking back first baseman Brandon Dixon or outfielder Rusney Castillo.

The Hanshin Tigers, are expected to release Central League saves leader Robert Suarez, who should attract a lot of attention in the States, while outfielder Jerry Sands and pitcher Jon Edwards are also not expected to receive contracts.

The Yomiuri Giants are letting go of right-hander Angel Sanchez, while the Marines have indicated they will not offer a contract to right-handed reliever Frank Herrmann.

The Orix Buffaloes are also reportedly not going to pick up their club option on Adam Jones.

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