Hiroshima Adds Stults; Hanshin to Acquire Standridge
Eric Stults’ is indeed heading to Japan, with the Hiroshima Carp emerging as the victor for his services. According to the Chugoku Shimbun, Stults gets a salary of about $700k plus performance bonuses, with a $50k signing bonus and and option for second year. The apparent loser in the Stults derby, the Hanshin Tigers, is apparently set to add Jason Standridge.
I don’t know what happened with the negotiations, but this is the second time in recent memory the Tigers didn’t get the pitcher they were after: during the offseason, Rakuten beat Hanshin to the punch on Juan Morillo. I wonder if the fact that more of Hanshin’s acquisition targets get leaked to the media than any other team has something to do with that. Or maybe they’re naming guys that they really aren’t interested in.
Anyway, getting Stults is an interesting move for the Carp. Rotation depth is a good thing for any team, and the Carp lost Colby Lewis in the offseason and have Kan Ohtake on the shelf. But if I had to pick an area for the Carp to improve on, I’d say their lineup could use a little more pop. I really liked the Andy Phillips acquisition last season. And adding Stults does introduce a roster squeeze for the Carp, as they’ll have to choose which four of Stults, Giancarlo Alvarado, Mike Schultz, Justin Huber and Jeff Fiorentino to carry. Still, this gives them the chance to carry the guys who are contributing the most regardless of position.
Hanshin getting Standridge was a little bit of a surprise for me. Their big issue right now is instability in their rotation, and I’ve always thought of Standridge as a reliever… but that’s kind of a mis-perception on my part. He started in Japan with SoftBank a couple years ago, and has starting experience at several minor league levels. Apparently one of the things Hanshin likes is that he has Japan experience and knows a bit about what’s getting into. According to Nikkan Sports (linked above), Hanshin was looking at guys on the fringes of MLB rosters, but wanted someone who they could sign and have on board quickly, to get the team through April and May.
If waiting was an option, they might have taken a look at Cleveland lefty Jeremy Sowers (my own speculation here). Sowers is a polish/command starter who has been back and forth between the Majors and 3A for the last four seasons. He’s never had any trouble putting up strong 3A numbers, but outside of some initial success hasn’t been effective at the MLB level.