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Japanese Free Agents Newsbeat

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Athletics, Shintaro Fujinami Agree To One-Year Deal

The Athletics have agreed to a one-year contract with right-hander Shintaro Fujinami, reports ESPN’s Jeff Passan (Twitter link). The hard-throwing 28-year-old was posted by the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball back on Dec. 1. His agreement is pending a physical, and the A’s expect to use him out of the rotation, Passan adds. MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reported not long prior to Passan that the A’s were in ongoing talks with Fujinami’s camp and considered a finalist to sign the righty.

Fujinami was a high school phenom from the same draft class as Shohei Ohtani, incredibly stepping right from high school ball into the Tigers’ rotation and as a 19-year-old rookie and pitching to a 2.75 ERA in 137 2/3 innings as a starter. For several years, he delivered standout results, pitching to a sub-3.00 ERA through his first four seasons as a professional and making the Central League All-Star team in each of those first four campaigns.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 11, 2023 at 04:18 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, japanese free agents, shintaro fujinami

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Kodai Senga, Mets agree on 5-year, $75 million contract, sources say

Right-hander Kodai Senga and the New York Mets agreed on a five-year, $75 million contract Saturday night, sources familiar with the deal told ESPN, confirming reports, adding the prized pitcher from Japan as part of a free agent spending frenzy that has rocketed the Mets’ payroll past previous records.

Senga, 29, starred over 11 seasons with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball, going 104-51 with a 2.42 ERA in 1,340⅔ innings over 275 starts. He is armed with a fastball that has reached triple digits and a split-fingered fastball nicknamed “the Ghost Fork” for how it disappears before reaching the plate.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 11, 2022 at 07:44 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese free agents, kodai senga, mets

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Orix Buffaloes Officially Post Masataka Yoshida

The Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball have officially posted outfielder Masataka Yoshida, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN. He’ll have 30 days to find a deal with a major league team or else return to the Buffaloes for 2023.

Yoshida, 29, made his NPB debut with the Buffaloes in 2016 and has since established himself as a key contributor at the plate. In 2022, he played in 119 games, hitting 21 home runs and producing an overall batting line of .335/.447/.561. That level of production and Yoshida’s age should lead to him garnering plenty of interest from North American teams. It was reported back in November that this posting was coming, but NPB contracts generally run until the start of December, which delayed the official move until now.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 06, 2022 at 01:45 PM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese free agents, masataka yoshida

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Flamethrower Shintaro Fujinami posted by Japan’s Hanshin Tigers, could be MLB reliever

The Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league have submitted right-hander Shintaro Fujinami to Major League Baseball’s posting system, they announced Thursday. Fujinami will now have 30 days to negotiate with MLB clubs. Should he reach an agreement with a MLB team, the Hanshin Tigers will receive a compensatory fee derived from his contract’s worth. (You can read more about how the posting system and compensatory fees work by clicking here.)

Fujinami, 28, pitched for the Tigers in parts of the last 10 seasons, amassing a 3.17 ERA and a 2.31 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 252 career appearances. He was once considered a top rival to Los Angeles Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, thanks in part to his impressive arm strength. Indeed, Fujinami’s fastball sits in the mid-90s and has been clocked into triple digits. He also throws a splitter and a slider. Here’s what Ted Baarda of Sports Info Solutions wrote about him in November:

The splitter was his best strikeout pitch, and his most-used pitch with two strikes, narrowly edging out his fastball in both two-strike usage and strikeouts. In addition to having a solid 34% whiff rate, batters also struggled to do anything with the splitter when it was put in play. His splitters turned into grounders 66% of the time, and batters only managed a 9% hard hit rate versus the pitch.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 01, 2022 at 11:51 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese free agents, shintaro fujinami

Monday, November 28, 2022

Kodai Senga is unlike any other MLB free-agent pitcher

Not every player who comes over from Japan’s NPB arrives with a parade of hype. Senga isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime Shohei Ohtani-type talent or even on the level of Yu Darvish when he arrived a decade ago, but there’s still a ton of reason to be excited. He’s coming off another excellent season — posting a 1.94 ERA with 156 strikeouts across 144 innings for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in NPB, the top league in Japan. Turning 30 in January, Senga is younger than every other starting pitcher available besides Zach Eflin, adding to his appeal for teams reluctant to commit big dollars to pitchers already nearing their mid-30’s. Though NPB is not MLB, his decade-long track record of excellence in what is widely considered the world’s second-best league has a huge group of teams targeting him as one of the most appealing players on the entire free agent market.

It’s easy to look at the tremendous statistics and dream big about Senga’s potential atop an MLB rotation, but there are many ways a pitcher can compile a sub-2 ERA. So how does he do it? What kind of pitcher is Senga?

The first thing to know is that, like many Japanese aces before him, Senga relies heavily on an incredible splitter to induce both whiffs and weak contact. Senga’s splitter in particular — which he threw about 20% of the time at an average of 85 MPH — is of the forkball variety and has been dubbed by the likes of Pitching Ninja as the “ghost fork.”

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 28, 2022 at 04:35 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese free agents, kodai senga

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Yankees interested in Japan’s Masataka Yoshida as Aaron Judge complement

The Yankees are showing interest in outfielder Masataka Yoshida, an outstanding hitter with a career slash line of .326/.419/.538.

Yoshida would fit the Yankees as he is a left-handed hitter and the type of contact hitter they prefer. Think Andrew Benintendi with much more power.

“I’m aware of him,” was all GM Brian Cashman would say about Yoshida. But another Yankees person said they are indeed interested.

The Yankees’ top outfield target is obviously Aaron Judge, but they’d like two outfielders, with the second one (assuming they can re-sign Judge) preferably left-handed. Yoshida, 29, drew attention with a .447 on-base percentage this past season.

“He’s as legit as they come,” former MLB outfielder Joe McCarthy, who played in Japan, told the Post’s Joel Sherman. “He didn’t slump for five months. He can go gap to gap. He just constantly barrels up pitches.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 10, 2022 at 04:39 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese free agents, masataka yoshida, yankees

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Kodai Senga To Trigger Opt-Out And Become Free Agent

Right-hander Kodai Senga is planning to trigger the opt-out in his contract with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and become a free agent, according to a report from Sankei Sports (Japanese language link). Senga and the club agreed to a five-year extension back in December, though that contract contained an opt-out clause after the first season. Senga will be a free agent and won’t be subject to the MLB-NPB posting system. It was reported in August that Senga planned to pursue MLB opportunities this winter and it now seems he will follow through on those plans.

Senga has been with the Hawks for his entire career thus far, making his first appearance back in 2012. It has been reported for many years that he has desired to make the leap across the Pacific to join MLB, though the Hawks are known for never posting their players. Instead, Senga has had to wait until he accrued nine years of NPB service time, at which point players are allowed to become free agents. While he was one year away from the open market, he agreed to the aforementioned extension, but only with the opt-out provision in place. He earned $5.3MM in 2022 and now has a chance to substantially add to that.

Senga, who will turn 30 in January, already has a track record as one of the best pitchers in Japan in recent years. Over his 11 seasons, he’s thrown 1,089 innings with a 2.59 ERA, 1,252 strikeouts and 414 walks. In 2022, he threw 144 innings with a 1.94 ERA, striking out 156 batters against 49 walks.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 16, 2022 at 06:58 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese free agents

 

 

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