Tag Archives: Posting system

Yamaguchi concludes Blue Jays deal

Right-hander Shun Yamaguchi has concluded his two-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, Kyodo News has reported, citing an official source.

Yamaguchi, who joined the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Central League three years ago as a free agent from the DeNA BayStars, is the first player ever posted by the Giants, Japan’s oldest pro team.

My profile of Yamaguchi is HERE.

Yamaguchi is coming off a career year in 2019 when he tied for the Central League in wins with 15 as the Giants won their first pennant since 2013.

Although pundits are saying Yamaguchi could be effective as a reliever, people should know he became a starter after developing a case of the yips as a reliever. The switch back to starter allowed him to push the reset button and develop his other pitches — a development that was accelerated during his time with the Giants.

Part of that metamorphosis was also likely due to his needing a new challenge, something pitching in the majors will provide in any context.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale was the first to report that Yamaguchi’s contract was completed with the Blue Jays as well as the salary info.

The kotatsu league: 4 more years, Kikuchi to remain with Carp

Second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi will remain a Hiroshima Carp, he told a press conference at Mazda Stadium on Friday, Kyodo News reported in Japanese, when he signed a four-year contract extension after failing to get a timely guaranteed major league contract.

Below are some Kikuchi highlights so you all can see what you’re missing.

Soon after the Central League club agreed to post him, Kikuchi said he would only move to the majors on a guaranteed major league contract. After meeting with teams at December’s winter meetings in San Diego, he has now told Hiroshima that he intends to remain with the Carp for 2020.

My profile of Kikuchi is HERE.

Former Tigers skipper Yoshida blames “undignified” Solarte for troubles

This year, the Hanshin Tigers rushed Yangervis Solarte into the firing line with a minimum of exposure to Japan’s game. His immediate success was quickly followed by failure and a trip to the minors, from which the former major leaguer never recovered.

Solarte was given 80 first-team plate appearances, then judged unworthy and demoted to the farm team. When he said a few days later that he was unable to “get motivated,” he declined promotion to the first team and returned home.

Yoshio Yoshida, a deserving Hall of Famer as a shortstop who also managed Hanshin to its only Japan Series championship in 1985, told the Nikkan Sports on Friday that Solarte’s problem was a “lack of dignity.”

“That Solarte, he COULD play at shortstop but he demonstrated a lack of dignity.”

Former Hanshin Tigers manager Yoshio Yoshida

Solarte went 13-for-69, but four of those hits were home runs. He drew nine walks, scored sic runs and drove in nine. Hardly a disaster.

The Tigers are a proud organization steeped in tradition. Unfortunately, one of those traditions is discarding foreign imports who fail to meet the team’s expectations for instant success and blaming the individuals for the club’s traditional lack of patience and understanding.

The kotatsu league: Marines’ Ishikawa looks to go postal

Lotte Marines right-hander Ayumu Ishikawa on Wednesday joined the line of players desiring to move to the majors via the posting system. On Thursday, Katsumi Kawai, the Marines’ owner’s proxy, gave a diplomatic response.

“As a team, our No. 1 desire is that our players aspire toward ambitious targets. It’s natural for us to encourage him,” Kawai said as the club’s office closed up shop for the year according to multiple media sources.

“For a player to do that, he must show effort and results.”

The 31-year-old Ishikawa expressed his desire to play abroad at a press conference announcing his 2020 contract. Ishikawa posted a 3.64 ERA and went 8-5 in 27 games last season, and received a 10 million yen ($80,000) pay cut.

“I told them I want to play in America, but before that, I want to get good results in Japan,” he said.

My profile of Ishikawa is HERE.

Buffaloes make former Olympian NPB’s 1st female scout

The Orix Buffaloes have moved former Olympic softball champion Emi Inui from the club’s “community group” into the team’s amateur scouting department.

The 36-year-old, who won a gold medal at the 2008 Bejing Olympics and a bronze medal in 2004, had been coaching youngsters at the Buffaloes’ youth academy. She becomes the first woman to be officially hired as a scout in NPB.

Moore concludes SoftBank connection

The SoftBank Hawks on Thursday announced the acquisition of lefty Matt Moore. My story on Moore is HERE. Although they have finished runner-up in Japan’s Pacific League the last two seasons, the SoftBank Hawks have been unstoppable in the postseason, winning the last three Japan Series and five of the last six.

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman has reported Moore’s deal is worth $3.5 million with escalators.

The kotatsu league: Yamaguchi poised to sign with Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays hit pay dirt on with what appears to be a cost-effective two-year contract for right-hander Shun Yamaguchi. The deal, as reported by Sankei Sports Wednesday morning in Japan, will be for $6 million.

Yamaguchi, who joined the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Central League three years ago as a free agent from the DeNA BayStars, is the first player ever posted by the Giants, Japan’s oldest pro team.

My profile of Yamaguchi is HERE. He is coming off a career year in 2019 when he tied for the Central League in wins with 15 as the Giants won their first pennant since 2013.

Although pundits are saying Yamaguchi could be effective as a reliever, should know that the reason he became a starter was that he developed a case of the yips as a reliever and became ineffective. The switch back to starter allowed him to develop his other pitches — a development that was accelerated during his time with the Giants.

Part of that metamorphosis was also likely due to his needing a new challenge, something pitching in the majors will provide in any context.

According to the SanSPo story, Yamaguchi will fly directly to Canada from Hawaii, where he had been with the rest of the Giants on their customary “victory vacation.”

Yamaguchi opens posting door for Sugano

The Giants had been staunchly opposed to using the posting system since the days of powerful former owner Tsuneo Watanabe but included a provision to post Yamaguchi as part of the three-year contract that saw him move from Yokohama to Tokyo. Since then, mixed signals have been coming from Yomiuri.

The same week the team’s owner passed off Yamaguchi’s posting as a one-time thing, Team president Tsukasa Imamura admitted the team had accepted the pitcher’s desire to be posted when he joined them as a free agent, saying, “no time was fixed for posting but that it was agreed to” according to a Daily Sports story.

Imamura added that it would now be incumbent on the team to evaluate other players’ wishes to be posted and named two-time Sawamura Award-winner Tomoyuki Sugano as a player who might fit that bill, mentioning that the right-hander had already sacrificed a year of his pro career in order to join the Giants as an amateur.

My profile of Sugano is HERE.

Tigers done with Dolis, close to Edwards deal

Rafael Dolis, the closer for the CL’s Hanshin Tigers until Kyuji Fujikawa‘s ninth-inning resurrection this past summer, is apparently moving on in search of a major league contract according to this story in the Daily Sports, which said the Tigers gave up on contract talks on Tuesday.

After saving 88 games over the previous 2-1/2 seasons, Dolis lost two games in June and was removed from the ninth-inning firing line and replaced by the remarkable Kyuji Fujikawa in July.

Except for a few hiccups, the 31-year-old Dolis was essentially as effective in 2019 as he had been in his three previous seasons.

Dolis’ English language NPB player page is HERE.

Here’s an interview with Fujikawa from this summer.

In related news, the Daily Sports also reported with 31-year-old right-hander Jon Edwards. In 49 major league games as a reliever with the Rangers, Padres and Indians, Edwards is 2-0 with a 3.67 ERA over 41-2/3 innings.

The video says “1st start” but it was Edwards’ first game in relief.

He has a 3.08 ERA over 131-1/3 career Triple-A innings with 30 saves and an 11-4 record. His 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings this year with Columbus was the worst figure of his Triple-A career. Using the lively major league ball introduced this season in Triple-A, Edwards allowed seven of his 10 career home runs over 49 innings.

Tsutsugo introduced by Rays

Here’s an English language wrap of Yoshitomo Tsutsugo‘s introductory presser with the Tampa Bay Rays.

My Tsutsugo profile is HERE.

The kotatsu league: Arihara tells Fighters his future is in MLB

Nippon Ham Fighters pitcher Kohei Arihara would like to pitch in the major leagues and hopes to be posted as early as the conclusion of the 2020 season. Arihara was the Pacific League’s rookie of the year in 2015 and led the PL this season in wins.

Another Fighter joins posting que

The Kyodo News story in Japanese is HERE.

“I had that thought in mind when I joined the team (as an amateur) and this year I formally relayed that,” Arihara told a press conference

The 27-year-old is the second front-line Fighters player to tell the team he’d like to be posted this offseason, following center fielder and leadoff man Haruki Nishikawa’s disclosure last month.

Arihara’s profile and my analysis can be found HERE.

Balentien on verge of signing with Hawks

The Nikkan Sports reported Wednesday that veteran slugger Wladimir Balentien was on the verge of signing with the SoftBank Hawks. The 35-year-old Balentien, who set Japan’s single-season home run record with 60 in his 2013 Central League MVP campaign, no longer counts against a team’s limit of four active foreign-registered players.

The Hawks are the only team that has been said to be in the hunt to sign Balentien, who has played all nine of his seasons with the Yakult Swallows, has 288 NPB home runs.

Dragons agree to terms with lefty Gonzalez

The Chunichi Dragons have agreed on a contract with 27-year-old Dominican lefty Luis Gonzalez according to the Chunichi Sports. According to the story, Dragons manager Tsuyoshi Yoda has been in the Dominican Republic, where Gonzalez has been playing winter ball.

Chunichi has lost the services of lefty Joely Rodriguez, who was arguably the Central League’s best middle reliever in 2019. HERE is Rodriguez’s NPB player page.

The kotatsu league: Moves aplenty

Tigers announce Bour agreement

The Hanshin Tigers announced Thursday that they have come to terms with Justin Bour. The team’s director of baseball operations, Osamu Tanimoto said, “He reminds one of (two-time triple crown batter Randy) Bass.”

@thehanshintiger might have said: “Welcome to the monkey house”

The comparison is not utterly without merit since both came to Hanshin as left-handed hitters with some pop who drew walks, but their ages and career paths prior to signing with Hanshin are so different.

Kyodo News Plus’ story is HERE.

Unlike Bass, who was at the age of 21 one of the best Triple-A hitters in America and then got better, Bour came out of college and didn’t make it to Triple-A until he was 26. The following year he had 446 plate appearances for the Marlins. Bass had 366 plate appearances over six major league seasons, most coming in his Age 27 season with the San Diego Padres in 1981.

It’s not hard to look at Bour’s major league career and see Bass doing the same or even a little better. Of course Bass came to Japan at the age of 29, while Bour is nearly two years older.

Bass’ Japanese batting stats are HERE, in Japanese unfortunately.

Although Bass took a couple of years to really master the Japanese strike zone, he had two seasons when he walked more often than he struck out — something that had been routine for him in the minors.

I’m not saying Bour has no chance to be nearly as good, but Bass — whose bid for the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame is gaining momentum in the expert’s division, is a fairly optimistic target.

Sugano wants 20 wins before moving to majors

Kyodo News reported that Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano has set a target of 20 wins for next season after a 2019 campaign that was marred by injury and ended his bid for an unprecedented third straight Sawamura Award. The Kyodo News story as published by Nikkei Shimbun is HERE.

Sugano’s player profile is HERE.

“I want to try and win 20 games,” he said after signing his 2020 contract. “I understand what I am capable of, and I think it’s important to go into the offseason having set oneself such an issue to attend to.”

On Wednesday, Giants owner Toshikazu Yamaguchi left the door open a crack for the possibility that Sugano could be posted, even while asserting that the club has not changed its official policy of rejecting the posting system altogether.

Yamaguchi said, “The case of (pitcher Shun) Yamaguchi was an individual exception…Sugano, of course, sat out a year as an amateur (to sign with the Giants) and so that is something that could be taken into consideration.”

On Thursday, Sugano said, “My desire (to go to MLB) remains unchanged. But my focus is on next year. I want to take care of that business, aim for a championship, and after that, I expect there will be various discussions.”

No such luck for Senga

Asked whether the Giants move to discuss posting had changed the landscape for his team, SoftBank Hawks owner Masayoshi Son, said in essence, “No, no, and hell no.”

“Why should we do anything that’s not in the team’s best interest.”

This does not bode well for star right-hander Kodai Senga, who will not be able to file for international free agency until Nov. 2024 at the earliest, — when two months before he turns 32. Although some said hell had frozen over when the Giants posted Yamaguchi, it seem

Hawks ditch Miranda, Suarez

The SoftBank Hawks announced Thursday they will not offer contracts to to left-hander Ariel Miranda and right-hander Robert Suarez. Suarez had been a bullpen workhorse in 2016, but has not been as effective after needing elbow surgery after the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

After eight impressive starts in 2018, Miranda was much less effective this season over 18 games.