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Thread: Japanese free agents

  1. #1
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    Japanese free agents

    Ranking Japanese Pitchers

    By my count there are five Japanese pitchers who stand a good chance of jumping over to MLB for the 2008 season. I asked Aaron Shinsano and Jackson Broder of East Windup Chronicle to rank them for us and write a short description for each. Another knowledgable friend, Tak Iwanaga, also added some info below.

    1. Hitoke Iwase - Iwase was on the hill for the tail end of last night's perfect game, the Japan Series clinching victory for the Chunichi Dragons. The lefty closer has 40+ saves three years running with a career 1.91 ERA. Tops out at around 93 MPH, but has arguably the best slider in Japan. He's starting to lose movement and velocity on his pitches, but is making up for it with very good control. A nice fit for the Okajima fetishist.

    2. Kenshin Kawakami - Japan's highest paid starter for the champion Chunichi Dragons (he made around $3MM) mixes a fastball, cutter, and curveball. His fastball runs around 87 and his curve is very slow. He's known as a big game pitcher and always challenges hitters. He was 12-8 with a 3.55 ERA in 2007, but the K/BB ratio was an appealing 6.3 in 167 2/3 IP. He's a HR prone strikeout pitcher. Kawakami has been healthy for the past four seasons.

    3. Hiroki Kuroda - One number to remember here: 300, as in 300 feet to left and 300 feet to right. That’s the stadium Kuroda spent 10 years in, and still he managed to post a sub-2.00 ERA in 2006 and go 13-6. What could he do in Petco with 67 extra feet to left to play with? Tak says that at the least, he's an innings eater.

    4. Kazumi Saito - Before Dice-K made his way to Boston, it was Hanshin's Saito, not Matsuzaka that was regarded as the top starter in Japanese baseball. He's won the Sawamura award three times, and when healthy puts up absurd numbers and gaudy K totals. His 2006 line for the Fukuoka Hawks--18-5, 205 K's in 201 IP, a 1.75 ERA--is the stuff of fictional video game characters. Saito employs a big time leg kick, mixing up a forkball, cutter, and nasty hammer in with his mid 90's fastball.

    Unfortunately for Saito and the many MLB suitors bandying his name about, he has been dealing with a chronic Prior-esque shoulder injury that could (and should) be a concern for squads ready to drop big coin on a Japanese starter. Saito's numbers when healthy were good this year as he battled back from injury: 6-3, 2.74, 71 K's in 72 1/3 IP, but are teams going to post a $30 million posting fee and $10 mil a year for a starter with shoulder issues? Boom or bust.

    5. Masahide Kobayashi - Lost seven games and ERA rose nearly a point in 2007, but that shouldn't deter teams from pursuing this 200+ save closer for Chiba Lotte. Throws from the stretch, and has that deceptive delivery that scouts seem to like these days. Has a great forkball that often tails in toward the batter. Not as good as Iwase or Koji Uehara, but might just be an upgrade over, say, The Farns. Tak adds that he was dropped to the "minors" at the end of the season and many feel his velocity and control are slipping.

    Would any of you be interested in trying to sign any of these players? The domestic market for pitchers is weak, and this might be our best option.

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  3. #2
    Senor Votto Degenerate39's Avatar
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    Re: Japanese free agents

    Id be intereted in all of them but they'll be too expensive for my taste I bet.
    Most Vottomatic Player

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    Re: Japanese free agents

    I would consider going after one of them if we don't have to pay the Dice-K down payment. Dice-K was not a free agent last year however. Another problem is that they may want to play in a city with a large Asian fanbase, and that is not Cincinnati. I know these pitchers may come to MLB next year, but am unaware how many of them are actually free agents.

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    Re: Japanese free agents

    What is the Asian population in and around Cincinnati? I dont know but I am assuming that its not that great so I doubt any Japaneese pitchers would consider playing here.
    I was in the ORG once, best 6 months of my life.

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    The Future GoReds33's Avatar
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    Re: Japanese free agents

    I think that Iwase could be awesome out of the pen in Cincinnati. If he is anywhere near a decent price we should go after him.
    If you can't build a winning team with that core a fire-sale isn't the solution. Selling the franchise, moving them to Nashville and converting GABP into a used car lot is.
    -LTlabner

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    Re: Japanese free agents

    Hiroki Kuroda... we could use an inning eater at #3 so we don't have to go to the bullpen so soon. He won't give up the long ball. But honestly, we need to tap the Asian market. There is so much money and talent there (look at Wang, Ichiro, Dice-K, Okajima, Hideki Matsui). Think of how much revenue that the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mariners are making. WE CAN DO THAT!

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    Re: Japanese free agents

    Reliever Masahide Kobayashi filed for free agency and is interested in MLB offers. He'd prefer to close but it's not a dealbreaker.

    One of them is now a free agent.

  9. #8
    The Future GoReds33's Avatar
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    Re: Japanese free agents

    Quote Originally Posted by AmarilloRed View Post
    Reliever Masahide Kobayashi filed for free agency and is interested in MLB offers. He'd prefer to close but it's not a dealbreaker.

    One of them is now a free agent.
    Time for the Reds to show the willingness to spend. Time to make a move.
    If you can't build a winning team with that core a fire-sale isn't the solution. Selling the franchise, moving them to Nashville and converting GABP into a used car lot is.
    -LTlabner

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    Re: Japanese free agents

    Quote Originally Posted by GoReds33 View Post
    Time for the Reds to show the willingness to spend. Time to make a move.
    It's been time for the last 10 years...

  11. #10
    Brett William Moore Will M's Avatar
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    Japanese free agents

    Something that isn't talked about much is that for these players this is the one time in their lives for a big contract. A lot of these truly free agents ( ie not a Dice K situation ) are 29-33 years old.
    These have been making some good money playing in Japan but now is their shot to really take care of themselves and their family.

    So lets say a guy gets a 3 year $10M deal from a west coast team. After paying taxes & higher living expenses they go back home a few years later with $5M. Not bad.

    Lets say the Reds offer that same guy 3 years at $12M.
    He goes home with an extra $1M.
    It will make a difference to him. An extra $1M is a LOT of money to a person, especially if he has a family to support/educate/etc.
    Compare this to say offering Tori Hunter 5 years at $77M vs $75M.

    So I think the Reds CAN get a Japanese pitcher to come here, they are just going to have to pay more than a team on the west coast. IMO this is a LOT better use of money than Castro, Stanton, Cormier, Conine, etc.
    .

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    Re: Japanese free agents

    I take that to mean not much more than $12-13MM. A cheaper option might be Hiroki Kuroda, though that could take a three-year commitment. So, perhaps a larger cash outlay.

    I copied this from mlbtraderumors.com. It seems to imply that signing Hiroki Kuroda will be cheaper than signing Schilling for 12-13 million a year, but that you would need to give Kuroda a 3 year deal. I think if the Reds could get Kuroda for 10 million dollars a year for 3 years, they should do it.

  13. #12
    The Future GoReds33's Avatar
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    Re: Japanese free agents

    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDunn View Post
    It's been time for the last 10 years...
    Atleast they tried with Griffey, so that would make 7 to 8 years. Hard to believe it's been that long.
    If you can't build a winning team with that core a fire-sale isn't the solution. Selling the franchise, moving them to Nashville and converting GABP into a used car lot is.
    -LTlabner

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    Re: Japanese free agents

    Masahide Kobayashi, the 33 year-old righthanded closer, will be represented by SFX. Fellow free agents Kerry Wood and Jorge Julio are also using that agency, as far as I can tell.
    Hiroki Kuroda is expected to fill for free agency on Monday. Since there's no posting fee involved, some have speculated his salary could exceed Daisuke Matsuzaka's. Matsuzaka will earn an average of $8.66MM per season during his six-year deal, and he also has a full no-trade clause. The idea of Kuroda earning around $10MM per year jives with earlier remarks from Jason Churchill of Prospect Insider.
    The deadline to fill for free agency in Japan is November 12th. Kosuke Fukudome is still undecided about whether to jump over to MLB. He'll meet with his current team, the Chunichi Dragons, on Monday. They're expected to make him an offer. The Hanshin Tigers may also make a play at $20MM over four years, using the money they received from posting Kei Igawa.

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    Brett William Moore Will M's Avatar
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    wow

    Quote Originally Posted by AmarilloRed View Post
    Masahide Kobayashi, the 33 year-old righthanded closer, will be represented by SFX. Fellow free agents Kerry Wood and Jorge Julio are also using that agency, as far as I can tell.
    Hiroki Kuroda is expected to fill for free agency on Monday. Since there's no posting fee involved, some have speculated his salary could exceed Daisuke Matsuzaka's. Matsuzaka will earn an average of $8.66MM per season during his six-year deal, and he also has a full no-trade clause. The idea of Kuroda earning around $10MM per year jives with earlier remarks from Jason Churchill of Prospect Insider.
    The deadline to fill for free agency in Japan is November 12th. Kosuke Fukudome is still undecided about whether to jump over to MLB. He'll meet with his current team, the Chunichi Dragons, on Monday. They're expected to make him an offer. The Hanshin Tigers may also make a play at $20MM over four years, using the money they received from posting Kei Igawa.
    That is a TON more than recent Japanese pitchers have gotten.
    For example the Dodgers paid Takashi Saito $1M this year.
    The Red Sox gave Hideki Okajima 2 years/$2.5M last winter.
    .

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    Re: Japanese free agents

    The Cubs are serious about both Hiroki Kuroda and Kosuke Fukudome. They could be signed quickly and fill team needs. This info jives with the recent info from Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald. While Kuroda recently filed for free agency, he's open to offers from MLB and Hiroshima.

    I really hope the Cubs don't sign Kuroda.


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