Nippon Ham Turnover
The season’s not over yet, but the offseason starts early for the B-class (bottom three) finishers. For the first time in five years, one of them is the Nippon Ham Fighters, and a few moves have been announced.
- Righty reliever Yoshinori Tateyama is planning to exercise his right to global free agency this offseason and make a move to MLB. I don’t think I’ve seen him pitch (if I have, he didn’t leave much of an impression), but he’ll be 35 on December 26, and had a 1.80, 59 strikeouts and 11 walks in 55 innings this year. He throws from a low three-quarters position, and is primarily a fastball/slider pitcher.
- The Fighters released 36-year old outfielder Tomoya Tsuboi and offered him a coaching job, but he wants to continue playing. Tsuboi has had a pretty good career, and could still possibly be a useful bench outfielder somewhere (Hiroshima?). Speculation is that he could look to the US minor or indy leagues if he doesn’t get an offer in Japan.
- Ham has also cut Kazuhito Tadano loose. The latest news is that Yokohama is looking at picking him up. Tadano has struggled over the last two seasons, but Yokoyama’s pitching needs are such that a flyer on Tadano sounds like a pretty good idea. If he does wind up with the ‘Stars, it’ll be something of a return full circle, as the team was set to acquire out of college through the 2002 draft, before backing out due to well-publicized issues.
- Surprisingly enough, Hichori Morimoto is reportedly looking into his free agency options, specifically with other NPB teams. Morimoto is the quintessential small-ball player, and could be particularly useful in the DH-free Central League… but I have a hard time seeing him play anywhere but Hokkaido. It’s just speculation at this point so it’s only potential turnover.