Contreras, Son Reportedly Looking for Move to Japan

» 21 November 2009 » In Koshien, npb, npb draft »

Here’s one I didn’t think of: Jose Conteras is reportedly looking for a job in Japan.

Sanspo reported a few days ago that Contreras reached out to the Hanshin Tigers, who despite being in need of pitching, aren’t interested in his services. The Hanshin source quoted by Sanspo said that “it seems like he wants to play in Japan. We’ve already decided against it, but it’s not 100%,” later adding, “(Contreras) seems like he would be quite inexpensive, so there will probably be other teams that show interest.”

Sanspo also pointed out that this would be the first time NPB is in the mix for a big-name player since Sammy Sosa tried to get a deal in Japan for the 2006 season.[1]

I didn’t think much of this story at first, but now it makes a little more sense. Today Nikkan Sports published a report saying that Contreras’s son, Kevin, is hoping to take part in an exchange program to Fukuoka’s Yanagawa high school. Kevin, 16, is a catcher at the IMG Baseball Academy in Florida, where he heard about the Koshien Tournament from his Japanese academy-mates. Yanagawa has played in the spring and summer Koshien Tournaments a total of 16 times.

The Contreras family is going to visit Japan next week, to look for Jose’s next employer and visit Kevin’s prospective high school. If Kevin does wind up attending high school in Fukuoka, the geographically close SoftBank Hawks and Hiroshima Carp would appear to be the most logical choices. I saw Contreras once or twice after he was traded to Colorado, and he showed a good fastball and splitter, which makes me think he has a little life left as a reliever. Then again, I saw him pitch against the Giants. Even at 37, he has good enough stuff to succeed in Japan, whether he has the health and composure to is another question. If everything comes together, this has the makings of a great story.

[1] After posting a dreadful season for Baltimore, Sosa offered to play the 2006 season for the Yokohama BayStars for 50m yen ($500k), but was turned away. A Yokohama executive was quoted in the media as saying “just because a player can’t play in America, it doesn’t mean he can play in Japan. He’d leave in two months.”

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