Smoak and mirai
Justin Smoak has agreed to contract terms with the Yomiuri Giants, the two-time defending champs of Japan’s Central League announced Thursday. The contract is reportedly a two-year deal worth $3 million a year.
The Giants who in 2020 failed to win Japan’s pro baseball championship for a franchise-record eighth-straight year, have now brought in the 34-year-old switch-hitting first baseman Smoak, and proven slugging corner outfielder-first baseman Eric Thames.
Smoak is coming off a truly awful 36-game 2020 season in which he hit for decent power and struck out a lot but that was a small sample. The Giants are gambling he’ll revert to something like his major league career .322 OBP and .419 slug at home run-friendly Tokyo Dome, but $6 million seems a lot for that kind of production.
The acquisition will probably mean more time behind the plate for hard-hitting catcher Takumi Oshiro.
Hawks add former Cup pitcher Rea
The Pacific League champion SoftBank Hawks said Thursday they have agreed to terms with 30-year-old right-hander Colin Rea while negotiations to re-sign lefty Matt Moore are not progressing as hoped Hochi Shimbun reported.
According to the Hawks, the 1.96-meter Rae has a 153-kph fastball he supplements with a curve, slider and change.
The Hawks wanted to re-sign Moore and were unable to reserve him, while they also non-tendered veteran right-hander Rick van den Hurk.
“He put up solid numbers in Triple A, and I’ve heard he has a strong desire to play in Japan. As he adapts to the different culture and playing syle here, that would be a plus,” Hochi quoted Hawks GM Sugihiko Mikasa as saying.
Swallows Murakami latest to test positive
Yakult Swallows first baseman Munetaka Murakami, the CL’s 2019 rookie of the year, and last year’s Best Nine winner at age 20, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the club announced Thursday.
Five players who had been in close contact with Murakami, including veteran outfielder Norichika Aoki, have all tested negative.
Murakami is the latest in what has been a daily reporting of new cases as Japan announced a new state of emergency for Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures. On Thursday, Tokyo announced 2,000 new infections for the first time.
Sumo grand champion Hakuho has also contracted the virus and has been hospitalized.