March 15 in Japan may be tax day, but Dec. 2 was this year’s NPB axe day.
Few surprises on cut day
NPB teams published their offseason reserve lists on Monday when the only real surprise was that Yurisbel Gracial and Alfredo Despaigne were both released by the SoftBank Hawks, ostensibly because the team had yet to conclude its negotiations with the Cuban government’s sports authorities.
The bigger they are the softer they fall
The big local news was that Xavier Batista, who is under suspension for banned substances, was reserved by the Hiroshima Carp. This wasn’t really news since the Carp could have voided his contract for cause during the summer, and most certainly would have if he didn’t have value.
The severity of punishment in Japanese sports tends to decrease as the player’s value increases. Kento Momota, the world No. 2 men’s singles badminton player missed a year and the Rio Olympics after participating in illegal gambling. Kyosuke Takagi one of four Yomiuri Giants pitchers who admitted to betting on baseball, and the only one of the four who had any value, was fired and then re-hired a year after receiving a fairly lenient suspension. So Batista’s remaining with the Carp shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
Big Jay to join Marines
Jay Jackson said Tuesday he has completed his agreement to play for the Lotte Marines, while Lotte said their talks were moving in a good direction. I’m going to attribute that disparity to Japanese teams’ history of trying to control the timing of news about their team, and having other business to attend to — the introduction of free agent pitcher Manabu Mima.
The Kyodo News story is HERE.
Jackson, who has a child with his Japanese partner, had hoped to stay in NPB last season and was disappointed in the lack of offers. When nothing materialized he signed a minor league deal with the Brewers and pitched in 28 games with them and spoke about that situation in March and about his adjustments to Japanese ball.
His NPB page (Japanese language only) is HERE.
In the U.S. he struck out about 1.5 batters per inning this year — a vast improvement over his norm before he came to Japan in 2016, suggesting he learned how to get more strikeouts in Japan. It will be interesting to see how his re-acquaintance with American-style ball will affect his play here the second time around.
Yamaguchi, Kikuchi posting applications complete
The Hiroshima Carp have completed the posting application for second base glove wizard Ryosuke Kikuchi, while the Yomiuri Giants said they also completed the necessary paperwork on pitcher Shun Yamaguchi, meaning their 30-day posting period will commence on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 8 a.m. Eastern time.
Here’s my page for analysis and backstory on all the guys heading to the majors this winter and in winters to come.
Giants sign Brazilian flame thrower Vieiera
The Yomiuri Giants announced Tuesday they have signed 26-year-old Brazilian and White Sox farm hand Thyago Vieira, who has saved 14 Triple-A games over the past two seasons and pitched in 23 major league games.
Here’s Vieira’s MLB debut: