Tag Archives: Rick van den Hurk

Kotatsu League Dec. 26

No posting in sight for Senga

On Saturday, the SoftBank Hawks held their annual “reject Kodai Senga’s plead to be posted” contract negotiation. The 26-year-old is on track to be a domestic free agent a year from now and eligible to move overseas on his own power after the 2022 season. Since GM Sugihiko Mikasa indicated a multiyear deal was ready for Senga, it seems he turned that down with the hope the club might just change its mind a year from now and post him after four years of head-shaking.

The Hawks have, according to Call to the Pen, signed Cuban pitcher Andy Rodriguez. The Hawks non-tendered pitchers Rick van den Hurk and Matt Moore, but would love to have Moore back for a second season in Fukuoka.

Tigers bulk up

The Hanshin Tigers have reached deals to import two of KBO’s outstanding imports last season, Mel Rojas Jr, and pitcher Raul
Alcantara, signed lefty Chen Wei-yin, who finished the 2020 season with the Lotte Marines, and re-signed closer Robert Suarez.

Alcantara won the 2020 Choi Dong Won Award as KBO’s outstanding pitcher, while Rojas is the second straight KBO RBI leader to join the Tigers following their 2019 acquisition of Jerry Sands. Rojas, the 2020 MVP also led the league in home runs and finished third in batting average.

The Marines have come to terms with infielder Adeiny Hechevarria, the Miami Marlins’ everyday shortstop from 2013 to 2016. Hechevarria has been a utility infielder since, although he did hit a career-high nine home runs last year.

Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi said he expects Hechevarria could hit 20 homers a season in Japan. I thought that was a bit of stretch but two of the 140 players who hit 20-plus HRs in their first NPB season came here without ever hitting more than nine in a year, so it’s not quite as silly as it sounds.

Tender touches

The Marines also brought back Frank Herrmann, whom they non-tendered, for a second season in Chiba, while the Lions have done the same with first-year reliever Reed Garrett. The Orix Buffaloes have also agreed to bring back closer Brandon Dickson for his ninth season.

When I saw Stefen Romero cut after an outstanding first season with the Rakuten Eagles, I wondered if an unusually large number of players were non-tendered this year, but that wasn’t appear the case. The 12 teams cut 132 players on Dec. 2, one shy of the 133 cut in 2016 and 2019.

From 2003 to 2010 the median was 94. Since 2011, the new median is 127.5, with the watershed year being 2011.

This should come as no surprise to anyone. That year, both leagues were thrown into chaos between the introduction of a deader uniform ball, the merging of umpires from both leagues for the first time, and low-lighting for several months in the wake of the nuclear disasters following the March 11 killer earthquake and tsunami. Offense plummeted, many players’ numbers dipped precipitously, and a lot of them got the chop.

Since then 120 to 130 has been the norm, and this year, which at first glance appeared to be a response to more available talent from the frozen free-agent market in the States, is not that unusual.

Free agent market

Speaking of free agents, one team’s international director said he did not feel more veteran major leaguers were looking to a Japan contract this year to escape the majors’ current buyers market.

In the domestic market, Yasuhiro Ogawa, the first pitcher in Japan to throw a no-hitter in the same game he first struck out 10 batters, tested the market as a free agent and decided to stay with the Yakult Swallows rather than join the Pacific League’s Nippon Ham Fighters.

Clearing the decks

Hawks release, Moore, van den Hurk, Uchikawa, Colas on cut day

The Pacific League’s SoftBank Hawks parted company, at least technically with pitchers Matt Moore and Rick van den Hurk, while making longtime captain Seiichi Uchikawa free to complete a deal with the Central League’s Yakult Swallows on Wednesday.

Nippon Professsional Baseball’s teams are required to submit their reserve lists for the 2021 season on Dec. 2, the big day for releases across Japan. The moves don’t necessarily mean that neither Moore nor van den Hurk will be back with the four-time defending Japan Series champions, but it does mean they were unable to or unwilling to exercise an option to keep them.

Cuban two-way player Oscar Colas, who has been on the restricted list since Feb. 19, was released by not being placed on the Hawks’ 2021 reserve list, meaning he will be free to sign with an MLB club as an international amateur when the next international signing period opens in June.

Cuts throw import market wide open

The winter NPB market for import players heated up considerably with Tuesday’s cuts when a number of experienced players with established value were left off their clubs’ reserves list. Here’s a brief rundown:

Lotte Marines
Seibu Lions
Rakuten Eagles
Nippon Ham Fighters
Orix Buffaloes

Yomiuri Giants
Hanshin Tigers
Chunichi Dragons
DeNA Baystars
Hiroshima Carp
Yakult Swallows