Yamada: Pride of Swallows

Second baseman Tetsuto Yamada will stay with the Yakult Swallows, multiple news outlets reported Thursday, opting to sign a seven-year 3.5 billion yen deal ($30 million) that will keep him with the Tokyo-based club in Japan’s Central League until he turns 35.

The seven-year deal matches the length of the one the SoftBank Hawks gave to their centerpiece center fielder, Yuki Yanagita, last autumn.

Yamada might not be the best second baseman on the planet as one colleague wrote, but until a few years ago he had be considered part of that discussion with his combination of speed, power, and defense.

According to Sponichi Annex, an official of the penurious club said, “If he had filed for free agency, then it would have been a competition to see who could offer the most money. It seems he didn’t want to be a bother to the team.”

The Swallows have long been one of Japan’s thriftiest teams. They rent their homepark, Tokyo’s historic Jingu Stadium, which prevents them from making much if any profit from the ballclub.

The fate of the ballpark is a little up in the air right now. Until a year ago, it was poised to be replaced by a new stadium on an adjacent lot and then demolished but numerous snags have since o

It will be closed next summer — if the Tokyo Olympics go forward — to be used as a staging area for the new national stadium down the street, while the Swallows play home games a few miles away at Tokyo Dome.

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