Tag Archive: Rumor Mill


[10/23/2017] Status of Softbank Hawks foreign players

All of the main everyday foreign players are expected to return to the Softbank Hawks next year.

  • Dennis Sarfate will be in the final year of a three-year deal next year.
  • Rick van den Hurk and Alfredo Despaigne signed three-year contracts before the start of the season this year.
  • The Hawks are planning to offer Livan Moinelo and Cuba a multi-year deal.
  • The Hawks like Ikusei player Oscar Colas’ potential and Robert Suarez is a part of the team’s future plans.
  • Kyle Jensen is still a question mark. The Hawks will consider other options.

Source: Sanspo 10/23/2017

[UPDATE 11/5 @ 10:40pm]

Sarfate and van den Hurk left Japan on November 5.

Source: Nikkan Sports 11/5/2017, Nikkan Sports 11/5/2017

[UPDATE 11/7 @ 11:29pm]

Despaigne, Moinelo, and Colas returned to Cuba out of Fukuoka Airport on November 7.

Source: Nikkan Sports 11/7/2017

[UPDATE 11/10 @ 2:32am]

The Hawks announced on November 9 that the following players are signed to contracts for the 2018 season: Despaigne, van den Hurk, Moinelo, Sarfate, Suarez, and Colas.

The Hawks also announced that they will not offer Jensen a contract for the 2018 season.

Source: Softbank 11/9/2017, Softbank 11/9/2017 (Jensen)


[10/22/2017] Hanshin Tigers interested in Ryoma Nogami

Thirty-year-old Ryoma Nogami earned his domestic free agent option last year. He may be thinking about exercising the option this winter. The Hanshin Tigers are interested and might consider pursuing him if he becomes available.

The Tigers are looking for additional arms for their starting rotation, particularly after they lost Randy Messenger to an injury and struggled to fill his spot. It did not help that Shintaro Fujinami needed to spend a bulk of time at Ni-gun making adjustments to his mechanics this year. Takumi Akiyama and Atsushi Nomi were the only two pitchers that managed to keep their spots in the rotation the entire season.

Nogami does like playing for the Seibu Lions and could end up staying with them, but is also said to be interested in listening to offers from other teams.

Source: Nikkan Sports 10/22/2017

[UPDATE 11/4 @ 1:59pm]

Nogami has not yet made a decision about his option. He did tell reporters on November 3 that Hisanobu Watanabe (Lions senior director) asked him to stay. He also told reporters that he wants to take his time with his decision, is asking people around him for their thoughts, was told by his wife that the decision was his to make.

Source: Sponichi 11/4/2017, Daily Sports 11/4/2017, Nikkan Sports 11/4/2017

[UPDATE 11/5 @ 12:04pm]

The Bay Stars may also be interested in Nogami. They are looking to upgrade their starting rotation with another right-handed pitcher.

Source: Daily Sports 11/5/2017, Sponichi 11/5/2017


[10/21/2017] Naoki Miyanishi considering his options

Thirty-two-year-old Naoki Miyanishi earned his international free agent option last year. He has already met with the Nippon Ham Fighters once after the season and was happy when they asked him to stay. He is open to staying, but is also interested in exploring the free agent market.

Miyanishi will be meeting with team officials for a second meeting later this month. He might not have a decision until November.

Source: Sports Hochi 10/21/2017, Nikkan Sports 10/21/2017, Sponichi 10/21/2017


[10/19/2017] Hanshin could offer Shunsuke a multi-year deal

Thirty-year-old Shunsuke Fujikawa earned his free agent option this year and could test the market depending on what kind of offer he receives from Hanshin. The Tigers could be preparing a multi-year deal.

Source: Daily Sports 10/18/2017

[UPDATE 10/22 @ 10:23pm]

Shunsuke told reporters he was still thinking about what to do with his option and that he was going to be meeting with officials soon.

Source: Nikkan Sports 10/22/2017

[UPDATE 11/7 @ 11:42pm]

Shunsuke will not be using his free agent option. He told the media today that spoke to the team officials and told them he wanted to play for the Tigers and help them win a Nippon Series.

Source: Daily Sports 11/7/2017, Nikkan Sports 11/7/2017, Sponichi 11/7/2017

[UPDATE 12/1 @ 2:40pm]

According to Daily Sports, Shunsuke agreed to a two-year deal worth a total 100 million yen.

Source: Daily Sports 12/1/2017


[10/19/2017] Yamato planning to exercise FA option

Yamato is thinking about exercising the domestic free agent option he earned this year. A number of teams, including Orix, Yokohama, and Yakult, are said to be interested in the twenty-nine-year-old. If he exercises the option, he will most likely be a rank B free agent, which means signing him will require compensation.

Hanshin will try to keep Yamato in a Hanshin uniform by offering a multi-year deal (around three years).

Source: Nikkan Sports 10/19/2017, Nikkan Sports 10/19/2017, Nikkan Sports 10/18/2017Sports Hochi 10/18/2017

[UPDATE 10/21 @ 12:13am]

The Tigers began discussions with Yamato during the season. They are planning to give Yamato time to figure out what he wants to do. They are also open to signing him even if he exercises his option.

Source: Daily Sports 10/20/2017, Nikkan Sports 10/20/2017, Sponichi 10/20/2017

[UPDATE 10/22 @ 11:15pm]

The Tigers are planning to offer Yamato a three-year deal. The Buffaloes and Bay Stars are interested in the twenty-nine-year-old.

Source: Sanspo 10/22/2017, Sanspo 10/22/2017

[UPDATE 10/26 @ 6:09pm]

Yamato met with Hanshin on October 25. He informed them he was thinking about exercising his free agent option. The Tigers may have in turn offered him a three- to four-year contract.

Source: Nikkan Sports 10/26/2017

[UPDATE 10/29 @ 11:00am]

The Tigers may have offered Yamato a four-year deal.

Source: Sports Hochi 10/29/2017

[UPDATE 10/29 @ 5:16pm]

Yamato is apparently fifty-fifty on staying versus leaving.

Source: Nikkan Sports 10/29/2017

[UPDATE 11/2 @ 3:30pm]

The Buffaloes are interested in Yamato and will consider approaching him if he decides to exercise his option.

Source: Sponichi 11/2/2017

[UPDATE 11/5 @ 12:01pm]

If Yamato decides to exercise his option, the Bay Stars might approach him with a three-year offer.

Source: Sports Hochi 11/5/2017, Daily Sports 11/5/2017, Nikkan Sports 11/5/2017

[UPDATE 11/5 @ 12:18pm]

According to Nikkan Sports, Yamato has informed the Tigers on November 4 that he intends to exercise his free agent option.

Source: Nikkan Sports 11/5/2017

[UPDATE 11/6 @ 3:41pm]

The Tigers may have made Yamato a solid offer, but he wants playing time and could sign with another team if he feels they will give him more opportunities to play. If he decides to leave, his preference might be for a team in the Kanto region. That could put Yokohama in the lead.

The Buffaloes might be preparing a three-year deal worth around 300 million yen (in total).

Hanshin would like Yamato to stay and might make adjustments to their offer if he exercises his option.

Source: Sports Hochi 11/6/2017, Sponichi 11/6/2017, Daily Sports 11/6/2017


[10/17/2017] Kazuhisa Makita to tell Lions about his interest in the Major

Thirty-two-year-old Kazuhisa Makita is planning to formally tell the Seibu Lions about his interest in playing in the Majors. He also has a domestic free agent option that he earned in August. He wants to discuss his options with the Lions and will consider everything: staying, asking to be posted, exercising his option.

Source: Sponichi 10/17/2017, Sanspo 10/17/2017, Daily Sports 10/17/2017, Sports Hochi 10/17/2017, Nikkan Sports 10/17/2017, Tokyo Sports 10/17/2017

[UPDATE 10/19 @ 6:16pm]

Makita will not earn his international free agent option until some time in 2019. If he wants to go to the Majors before then, the only way will be through the posting system. The Lions could decide to post him if Makita counters by saying he will exercise his domestic option. If he does exercise the option, the Yomiuri Giants might be interested.

Source: ZakZak 10/19/2017

[UPDATE 10/29 @ 11:05am]

Makita told the media after practices at MetLife Dome on October 28 that he informed the Lions of his interest in getting posted to the Majors. He is set to meet team officials this coming week to discuss options: staying, posting system, exercising option.

Source: Sports Hochi 10/29/2017, Daily Sports 10/29/2017, Sponichi 10/29/2017, Nikkan Sports 10/29/2017

[UPDATE 10/31 @ 12:28am]

Makita does not want to wait two years for his international free agent option because of his age. He feels this year is his last chance to go to the Majors.

Source: Sanspo 10/30/2017

[UPDATE 11/5 @ 12:53am]

The Lions may be open to posting Makita, particularly since he could exercise his free agent option if they outright turn down his request. They would rather he stay, but better to post him than to see him walk via free agency. The Lions did also secure another submarine pitcher during this year’s draft (Kaito Yoza).

Source: Tokyo Sprts 11/4/2017

[UPDATE 11/5 @ 11:49am]

The Softbank Hawks are looking into Makita, just in case he decides to exercise his free agent option.

Source: Sports Hochi 11/5/2017

[UPDATE 11/6 @ 1:17am]

The Lions are open to posting Makita, but Hisanobu Watanabe (Lions senior director) told reporters on November 5 that any decision would have to wait until after the new posting system rules were in place.

Source: Sanspo 11/5/2017

[UPDATE 11/6 @ 3:47pm]

Lions Director Haruhiko Suzuki told reporters on November 6 that they will most likely post Makita, but only after the NPB and MLB finalize the new posting system.

Source: Nikkan Sports 11/6/2017Nikkan Sports 11/6/2017, Sponichi 11/6/2017, Sports Hochi 11/6/2017

[UPDATE 11/7 @ 2:57pm]

This could end up becoming a timing issue for Makita. While Makita is interested in the Majors, he is also said to be interested in testing the free agent waters in Japan.

The filing deadline for free agency is November 14. Makita can forego free agency and simply wait for the new posting system agreement. But if the Lions, for whatever reason, decide to back down from their plans to post Makita (while unlikely, they could be stalling for time), he will be stuck with them for at least another year.

If Makita files for free agency, he will most likely have to give up any chance he has at being posted, but at least he guarantees himself one of the two things he wanted to do this winter.

Source: Nikkan Sports 11/7/2017

[UPDATE 11/8 @ 9:19pm]

ZakZak wonders if there is even a market for Makita via the posting system.

Source: ZakZak 11/8/2017

[UPDATE 11/9 @ 10:25am]

According to Nikkan Sports, Makita has decided he wants to go to the Majors through the posting system and will not use his free agent option. Senior Director Watanabe told reporters on November 8 that they plan to post Makita regardless of the terms of the new posting agreement.

Source: Nikkan Sports 11/9/2017

[UPDATE 11/11 @ 12:11am]

Makita will most likely select CAA Sports to represent him.

Source: Nikkan Sports 11/10/2017


[10/17/2017] Seibu Lions will most likely offer contracts to Wolfe, Schlitter

The Seibu Lions are planning to offer thirty-six-year-old Brian Wolfe and thirty-one-year-old Brian Schlitter contracts for the 2018 season. Wolfe won nine games this year and Schlitter pitched in sixty-four games and recorded thirty-two holds.

Schlitter returned to the United States out of Narita Airport on October 17.

Thirty-one-year-old Ernesto Mejia will be in the second year of a three-year contract next year. The Lions will most likely part ways with thirty-one-year-old Stephen Fife and twenty-seven-year-old Frank Garces.

Source: Sponichi 10/17/2017, Nikkan Sports 10/17/2017

[UPDATE 10/18 @ 9:15pm]

The Lions announced that they placed Garces and Fife on waivers.

Source: Seibu 10/18/2017

[UPDATE 10/19 @ 1:22am]

Wolfe left for the United States out of Narita Airport on October 18.

Source: Nikkan Sports 10/18/2017

[UPDATE 10/19 @ 6:04pm]

Mejia left for the United States out of Narita Airport on October 18.

Source: Daily Sports 10/19/2017

[UPDATE 10/30 @ 11:10pm]

The Lions are expected to part ways with Schlitter.

Source: Nikkan Sports 10/30/2017

[UPDATE 11/1 @ 3:54pm]

The Lions announced today that they reached an agreement with Wolfe. The Lions also announced that they are not going to offer Schlitter a contract for the 2018 season.

Source: Seibu 11/1/2017


[10/13/2017] Hanshin planning to offer Hiroaki Saiuchi an Ikusei contract

According to a report at Sanspo, the Hanshin Tigers are not planning to sign twenty-four-year-old Hiroaki Saiuchi to a seventy-man roster contract next year.

Saiuchi struggled because of right shoulder problems this year and was limited to just two Ni-gun games. He is currently training at the Naruohama facilities.

The Tigers are planning to offer Saiuchi an Ikusei contract after the twelve-team tryouts.

Source: Sanspo 10/11/2017

[UPDATE 11/18 @ 3:31am]

Saiuchi signed an Ikusei contract worth an estimated 11.5 million yen (down 3.5 million yen from this year).

Source: Nikkan Sports 11/17/2017

[UPDATE 12/8 @ 11:41pm]

The Tigers announced today that they assigned Saiuchi the uniform number 126.

Source: Hanshin 12/8/2017


[10/13/2017] Nippon Ham to offer Kenji Yano a contract

The media learned on October 10 that the Nippon Ham Fighters want thirty-seven-year-old Kenji Yano to stay and are planning to offer him a contract for the 2018 season.

Source: Sanspo 10/11/2017


[10/13/2017] Yomiuri Giants part ways with Shuichi Murata

The Yomiuri Giants announced on October 13 that they are not planning to sign thirty-six-year-old Shuichi Murata to a contract for the 2018 season.

Murata met General Manager Yoshitaka Katori at a hotel in Tokyo earlier in the day and was told the Giants were focusing on youth, particularly in the infield, and could not guarantee him a lot of playing time. The Giants wanted to show their gratitude for everything the veteran did for the organization over the years and felt releasing him would provide him with more options*.

Murata reportedly thanked Katori for being straight with him. The third baseman is interested in playing next year.

* The Giants could have made Murata exercise his free agent option, but instead released him. Teams that sign him now do not have to worry about compensation.

Source: Yomiuri 10/13/2017, Daily Sports 10/13/2017, Tokyo Sports 10/13/2017

[UPDATE 10/15 @ 6:02am]

The Chiba Lotte Marines are interested in Murata.

The Swallows could also be interested in the veteran, depending on the health of players like Shingo Kawabata and Kazuhiro Hatakeyama.

According to Sanspo, Murata was prepared to stay with the Giants, regardless of the playing conditions.

Source: Nikkan Sports 10/14/2017, Nikkan Sports 10/14/2017, Sponichi 10/14/2017, Sanspo 10/14/2017

[UPDATE 10/15 @ 9:14pm]

Murata was prepared to finish his career with the Giants, particularly because it was his decision to sign with the team after he exercised his free agent option (he felt a sense of responsibility). He never considered free agency.

Considering his family situation, Murata will probably want to stay close to Tokyo. However, he knows he may not have that luxury.

Source: ZakZak 10/15/2017

[UPDATE 10/20 @ 10:12pm]

The Yakult Swallows and Chiba Lotte Marines are not interested in Murata at this time. The Swallows have Kawabata and the Marines are focusing on internal development. Circumstances can change, but for the time being, it seems neither team will actively pursue the veteran.

Source: Nikkan Sports 10/17/2017, Sports Hochi 10/20/2017

[UPDATE 10/23 @ 11:13pm]

The Rakuten Eagles are interested in Murata. They already have players like Zelous Wheeler and Ginji to play third and first, respectively, but would also like to expand their options with a Japanese right-handed hitter with pop.

Source: Nikkan Sports 10/23/2017

[UPDATE 11/23 @ 9:52pm]

Lions Senior Director Hisanobu Watanabe told reporters they were not planning to approach Murata because they already have options at third base and designated hitter.

Source: Sponichi 11/23/2017

[UPDATE 11/26 @ 3:40am]

Murata has not received any offers. He wants to play baseball and is apparently open to taking tryouts with teams during spring camp next year.

Source: Sponichi 11/25/2017

[UPDATE 12/28 @ 11:06am]

Murata is starting to consider the possibility of retirement.

Source: ZakZak 12/28/2017

[UPDATE 1/9/2018 @ 3:23am]

Murata wants to continue playing and is planning to prepare accordingly. He is open to tryouts and is keeping all his options open, including playing for an independent league team in Japan. For now, he has his sights set on the end of July, the last day for NPB teams to add new players to the seventy-man roster.

Source: Nikkan Sports 1/8/2018, Sponichi 1/8/2018

[UPDATE 1/26/2018 @ 10:02am]

Murata has not been contacted by any NPB teams, but has received a number of offers from Independent League teams (he has also apparently received a spring training invite from one or more MLB teams). He will most likely meet with teams this month to see if he can secure a contract that will allow him to continue pursuing his goal of returning to the NPB.

Source: Nikkan Sports 1/25/2018, Sponichi 1/25/2018, Tokyo Sports 1/25/2018

NPB Standings [Full]
Hiroshima 143 88 51 4
Hanshin 143 78 61 4
Yokohama 143 73 65 5
Yomiuri 143 72 68 3
Chunichi 143 59 79 5
Yakult 143 45 96 2
Softbank 143 94 49 0
Seibu 143 79 61 3
Rakuten 143 77 63 3
Orix 143 63 79 1
Nippon Ham 143 60 83 0
Lotte 143 54 87 2
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