Tag Archives: Kohei Arihara

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.

Fighters post stars

The Nippon Ham Fighters have agreed to post ace pitcher Kohei Arihara and center fielder Haruki Nishikawa, both 28, Sports Nippon first reported Tuesday, news that has since been confirmed by multiple outlets.

The Fighters are one of the Pacific League’s two minor powers over the past decade, but unlike their growth spurt after posting Yu Darvish, the team has skidded since sending Shohei Ohtani to the majors in 2018. Now they will lose a quality leadoff man — if someone takes Nishikawa — and their best pitcher, Arihara.

Japanese teams used to be able to decline insufficient posting fees but have since signed away those rights to MLB, so their only return in a soft market for Japanese position players is going to be minimal.

Arihara should net them around $10 million in fees when all is said and done.

The Fighters are in an interesting position. The team is not positioned to win for the next few years, and they will open their own stadium in 2023. Once they leave Sapporo Dome, the club will turn into a money-making machine, that could fund massive development and allow them to challenge the SoftBank Hawks, something they are incapable of at this instant.

The Seibu Lions have also invested heavily in infrastructure around the team’s home base in Saitama Prefecture on the western outskirts of Tokyo. That will likely keep the Lions from tumbling to where the Fighters are now, but their stadium’s location is always going to be a bottleneck for future success.

Who’s next

With Arihara and Nishikawa going into the December posting market, and Lotte Marines right-hander Ayumu Ishikawa taking a pass, that leaves Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano left as the big name yet to decide. There has been chatter about Marines reliever Hirokazu Sawamura, and MLB teams ARE interested in his wild, fastball-forkball arsenal, but Sugano is the prize if he and the Giants decide the time is right.

Sugano will be an international free agent a year from now, and the Giants would love to keep him around to help at a third straight Japan Series defeat, I mean birth, but in the way few MLB teams and fans would understand, the Giants owe him the chance to go if he likes.

Sugano pitched OK in Game 1 of the Japan Series on Saturday, and the game could easily have gone the other way, but if you want to see the real deal, watch him in the 2017 WBC semifinal against the United States.

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