Tag Archives: Hirokazu Sawamura

2021 Kotatsu League

The “kotatsu league” is borrowed from the late great Wayne Graczyk, who used it to describe the offseason player market in a country where families used to spend winter mornings and evenings in the living room sitting around the kotatsu, with hands and feet under the blanket kept toasty warm by the heater under the table.

New imports

Overseas eligble

Moving in Japan

… via free agency

… non-tendered players

Notable players staying put

Tomoyuki Sugano – posted, unsigned

Contract deadline: Jan. 7, 5 pm EST.

The posting system deadline came and went for Sugano, who reportedly has a four-year deal waiting for him back home with the Giants.

Read the Kyodo News English story

Sugano traveled to the United States, leaving Japan on New Years Day, to confer with agent Josh Wolfe, and ostensibly take a physical prior to completing any deal.

The Yomiuri Giants announced on Dec. 8 they had completed the filing process for Sugano. His posting process has been anything but typical, and virtually every story about his potential move in Japanese has included a reminder that he might well choose to play in Japan in 2021.

There may be MLB scouts out there who don’t think Sugano would be a plus to any major league rotation, but so far, I haven’t heard that. The key word for him is pitchability. He should be decent out of the box and get better from there.

Because of that, Sugano’s probably going to get an offer he won’t want to walk away from.

Kohei Arihara – posted, signed Texas Rangers

Contract: Signed a 2-year contract with the Texas Rangers worth, according to cbs.com, worth $2.6 million in 2021 and $3.6 million in 2022. His 2020 contract was reportedly 145 million yen, about $1.3 million, although Japanese contracts are never made public so that is only the figure the team and player agreed to report.

Haruki Nishikawa – posted, unsigned

Contract deadline: Jan. 2, 5 pm EST.

In 2020, Nishikawa played out the final season of a two-year deal that reportedly paid him 200 million yen or roughly $1.8 million a year. He returns to the Fighters, however, his dream unfulfilled for the moment.

He spoke at an event in Sapporo in December in which he admitted hearing reports that his skills won’t play in MLB, but said he has some tricks up his sleeve Sankei Sports reported.

“I’ll be anxious (about the process) from start to finish, and then I’ll probably be anxious after that.”

–Nippon Fighters center fielder and leadoff hitter Haruki Nishikawa

Hirokazu Sawamura – free agent

Sawamura has reportedly hired Ichiro Suzuki‘s agent John Boggs to represent him, and said he hasn’t ruled out talks with Japanese clubs.

Shoichi Ino– signed Yomiuri Giants

Multiple sources on Friday, Nov. 11, reported Ino has turned down the BayStars and the Yakult Swallows to sign with the Yomiuri Giants for a salary around 100 million yen.

Takayuki Kajitani – signed Yomiuri Giants

Kajitani has reportedly agreed to a four-year 800 million yen deal with the Yomiuri Giants who will give him No. 13.

Yasuhiro Ogawa – re-signed Yakult Swallows

Nikkan Sports reported that Ogawa, who this year became the first pitcher in history to throw a no-hitter who had never before struck out 10 batters in a game, has drawn interest from the Pacific League’s Nippon Ham Fighters.

Instead, the right-hander decided to stay put with his original club.

Kotatsu League: Dec. 3

Sugano takes the next step

Although Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano has been cleared for takeoff to the majors via the posting system, there was no word yet whether he will go ahead and test the waters in MLB’s petri dish next season until Thursday night in Japan. At that point, Kyodo News‘ Japanese side reported that the right-hander had indeed asked his team to file the paperwork to post him.

The story suggested that Sugano will see what the market its like but is not 100-percent sold on moving to MLB this winter.

The Sugano posting so far has been an inversion of the regular process. Prior to 2019, there were two posting patterns, one for 10 teams and another for the SoftBank Hawks and the Giants

Teams other than SoftBank and Yomiuri

  1. Player speaks to media after meeting with team officials in December to discuss next year’s contract.
  2. Player tells the media that he’s told the team he wants to be posted.
  3. Team says it will be considered.
  4. The following year, the team posts the player.

SoftBank Hawks posting

  1. Player tells the media he wishes to be posted.
  2. Team tells the player to forget about it and focus on baseball

Yomiuri Giants posting

  1. Team denies any players will ever be posted.
  2. Sugano tells everyone he’ll go when he can but never says he asks to be posted.
  3. Team calls report that Shun Yamaguchi will be posted “untrue.”
  4. Team posts Shun Yamaguchi.
  5. One team official said policy toward posting players has not changed and that there are no exceptions — except Yamaguchi.
  6. Another team official said policy toward posting players has not changed but that Tomoyuki Sugano is an exception.
  7. Team reveals Sugano is free to go if he likes.
  8. Sugano at some point reveals whether he will go or not.

Nishikawa joins Arihara in posting que

The Nippon Ham Fighters revealed Thursday that they have posted center fielder and leadoff man Haruki Nishikawa, who now joins ace pitcher Kohei Arihara in pursuit of major league work.

This past week, Hirokazu Sawamura filed for free agency, saying he would be open to offers from all 30 MLB clubs and all 12 in Japan. His teammate, Ayumu Ishikawa was allowed to go but decided against it this winter, citing the coronavirus situation in the States as one reason to stay put.