Tomoya Mori

NPB news: Nov. 19, 2022

The Chunichi Dragons mean business, whether it’s baseball business or not, it’s hard to say, but they ain’t fooling around. For the second time four days, Chunichi traded away an established infielder for a pitcher with modest prospects.

Elsewhere, the Seibu Lions have increased their chances of getting a decent player from the Orix Buffaloes in compensation for their signing star free agent catcher Tomoya Mori.

Kyoda sent packing

On Friday, it was shortstop Yota Kyoda, who twice drew the ire of skipper Kazuyoshi Tatsunami this season and was packed off to the farm team. On May 4, Kyoda was yanked off the field in the middle of a game at Yokohama Stadium and ordered to leave for the team’s farm facility then and there.

In exchange for the 28-year-old Kyoda, a prototypical slap-hitting left-handed batting glove man, the Dragons get 27-year-old lefty reliever Toshiki Sunada. Unlike the one that sent good-hitting second baseman Toshiki Abe to Rakuten for what’s left of Hideaki Wakui‘s career, this one appears like more of an even deal.

Sunada has had an up-and-down career, but has only pitched 83-2/3 innings in the bigs over the past four seasons. He pitched just 12-2/3 innings last season. But his numbers could look dramatically better in Nagoya, while Kyoda could easily benefit with a move from the Nagoya Tomb to one of Japan’s best hitters’ parks.

Tatsunami, who will be entering his second season as manager, is a former middle infielder, and it looks for all the world like he’s trying to improve the Dragons the same way Elon Musk is improving Twitter.

The Yoshida-Mori dilemma

When Japanese teams sign domestic free agents who sit in the upper echelons of their former team’s salary structure, the signing team is required to offer a list of players, who might be selected as part of a compensation package to the team their new player left.

The Buffaloes must offer the Lions a chance to grab a player who is not an import or a newly drafted player or on a non-roster developmental contract on a list of 28 protected players. If Seibu sees no one to their liking, they can opt for a larger cash settlement instead.

Because Orix signed Mori and posted slugging outfielder Masataka Yoshida, they are in a unique situation. If they choose not to protect Yoshida from being a potential compensation player, the Lions could seize him and then claim the posting fee.

The irony is that Mori’s signing, it turns out, was the condition which Orix said it needed to meet before allowing Yoshida to move to MLB. And now the Buffaloes can only protect 27 of the guys they intended to put into uniform next season, giving the Lions a unique opportunity to grab a player of some value.

Thanks to Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times for pointing this out to me.

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