Or how it can pay to let the Giants sign your players…
On Monday, Jan. 7, the Yomiuri Giants announced they had assigned the contract of veteran outfielder Hisayoshi Chono to the Hiroshima Carp as part of the compensation package for signing two-time reigning Central League MVP Yoshihiro Maru.
Chono is the second player the Giants have cast off as a result of this winter’s offseason shopping spree, having turned over the contract of veteran lefty and former ace Tetsuya Utsumi to the Seibu Lions in exchange for signing the Lions’ No. 2 catcher, Ginjiro Sumitani.
According to Bill James’ Win Shares, the 34-year-old Chono is coming off the best season of any player taken as free agent compensation, having added 10.9 WS to the Giants’ cause in 2018. Mind you the previous top two, catcher Kazunari Tsuruoka (2013 for pitcher Yasutomo Kubo) ) and reliever Shinya Okamoto (2007 for outfielder Kazuhiro Wada) did precious little with their future teams.
The big prize so far among compensation players goes to outfielder Kazuki Fukuchi. After producing 6.3 WS for the Seibu Lions in 2007, he was taken by the Yakult Swallows as compensation for pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii. Fukuchi would go on to contribute 38.4 WS with the Swallows to Ishii’s 24.2 with the Lions. Fukuchi told me that he had taken Ishii out to dinner to thank him for kick-starting his career.
Free agents and compensation players
|Prev Year||FA||FA R||Fut. W S||Comp||Comp R||Last WS||Fut. WS|
|2007||石井 一久||Kazuhisa Ishii||24.2||福地 寿樹||Kazuki Fukuchi||6.3||38.4|
|2007||新井 貴浩||Takahiro Arai||138.8||赤松 真人||Masato Akamatsu||0.3||37.5|
|2001||加藤 伸一||Shinichi Kato||4.5||ユウキ||Yuki Tanaka||22.3|
|2013||大竹 寛||Kan Otake||16.8||一岡 竜司||Ryuji Ichioka||0.1||21|
|2013||片岡 治大||Yasuyuki Kataoka||22.6||脇谷 亮太||Ryota Wakiya||2.8||13.5|
|2005||野口 茂樹||Shigeki Noguchi||0.7||小田 幸平||Kohei Oda||0.1||9.4|
|2011||村田 修一||Shuichi Murata||83.3||藤井 秀悟||Shugo Fujii||0||9.3|
|2005||豊田 清||Kiyoshi Toyoda||21.3||江藤 智||Akira Eto||0.2||7.2|
|2006||門倉 健||Ken Kadokura||0.5||工藤 公康||Kimiyasu Kudo||1.5||6.9|
|2013||久保 康友||Yasutomo Kubo||22.8||鶴岡 一成||Kazunari Tsuruoka||7.6||6.3|
|2010||小林宏||Hiroyuki Kobayashi||0.6||髙濱 卓也||Takuya Takahama||5.4|
|2016||山口 俊||Shun Yamaguchi||8.7||平良 拳太郎||Kentaro Taira||0||4.8|
|2012||寺原 隼人||Hayato Terahara||10.9||馬原 孝浩||Takahiro Mahara||3.8|
|2007||和田 一浩||Kazuhiro Wada||159.6||岡本 真也||Shinya Okamoto||6.7||3.6|
|2012||平野 恵一||Keiichi Hirano||19.6||高宮 和也||Kazuya Takamiya||0||3.6|
|2001||前田 幸長||Yukinaga Maeda||15.4||平松 一宏||Kazuhiro Hiramatsu||0||3|
|2016||糸井 嘉男||Yoshio Itoi||35.6||金田 和之||Kazuyuki Kaneda||0.1||2.2|
|2006||小久保 裕紀||Hiroki Kokubo||73.3||吉武 真太郎||Shintaro Yoshitake||4.3||2.1|
|2013||鶴岡 慎也||Shinya Tsuruoka||13.5||藤岡 好明||Yoshiaki Fujioka||2.6||1.8|
|2014||相川 亮二||Ryoji Aikawa||8||奥村 展征||Nobuyuki Okumura||1.7|
|1995||河野 博文||Hirofumi Kono||10.6||川邉 忠義||Tadayoshi Kawabe||0.8|
|2017||大和||Yamato Maeda||7.1||尾仲 祐哉||Yuya Onaka||0||0.4|
|2011||大村 三郎||Saburo Omura||19.3||高口 隆行||Takayuki Takaguchi||0.3||0.1|
|2013||涌井 秀章||Hideaki Wakui||41.7||中郷 大樹||Taiki Nakago||2.4||0|
|2017||野上 亮磨||Ryoma Nogami||2.2||高木 勇人||Hayato Takagi||2.1||0|
|2018||炭谷 銀仁朗||Ginjiro Sumitani||内海 哲也||Tetsuya Utsumi||3.8|
|2018||丸 佳浩||Yoshihiro Maru||長野 久義||Hisayoshi Chono||10.9|
|2018||西 勇輝||Yuki Nishi||竹安 大知||Daichi Takeyasu||0.6|
And then there’s the money…
Both Utsumi and Chono were available because they have high salaries and are past their prime, and their new teams will have to take on those contracts. Utsumi’s was reported at 100 million yen ( $924,000) and Chono’s at 220 million yen ($2 million).
But teams are also eligible for cash compensation. As a first-time free agent whose 2018 salary (reportedly 110 million yen) ranked him between 4th and 10th on Seibu’s payroll, Sumitani was a “Class B” free agent. Maru was a “Class A” with his salary from last season ranking among Hiroshima’s top three.
As such, the Lions could opt to receive 60 percent of Sumitani’s salary or a player and 40 percent. The Carp had the option of 80 percent of Maru’s 190 million yen salary or a player and 50 percent.
The idea is to keep the best players and win pennants, but the Carp will not now be paying Maru the roughly 400 million yen ($3.7 million) a year for four years they had offered him. They will instead get Chono for $2 million with the Giants kicking in 43 percent of Chono’s salary for 2018.
Sumitani’s compensation package comes in the form of an older veteran pitcher, whom they’ll need to pay $925,000 with Yomiuri kicking in 44 percent of that. By the way, Sumitani earned 1.7 WS last year — less than half of Utsumi’s 3.8, although the catcher has been the more valuable of the two, barely, over the past three seasons.
Throw in the fact that the Giants already have a No. 1 catcher, Seiji Kobayashi, a future Hall of Famer who wants to catch again after a few seasons at first base (Shinnosuke Abe) and a few other guys fighting for playing time, one wonders whether drug testing might be needed at Yomiuri’s front office.
Because both Chono and Utsumi are eligible to file for free agency next November, the way the Giants’ brain trust has been operating, there might be a chance that Yomiuri would re-sign them if given the chance. If so, the Carp could pocket 80 percent of Chono’s salary for 2018 ($1.6 million), which would be a pretty sweet deal.