Remaining Free Agents

» 17 January 2012 » In mlb, nichibei, npb »

With spring training a mere two weeks away, NPB teams are largely done making offseason roster moves. But Buster Olney’s observation that there are a number of established MLB players that are still available on the free agent market got me wondering if any would be fits in Japan. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Kosuke Fukudome — There has been surprisingly little discussion of a Fukudome return in the Japanese media, the only rumor of note being that Hanshin was considering him as a replacement for Matt Murton, who they successfully re-signed.
  • Kenshin Kawakami — Kawakami’s name has been similarly absent in the Japanese media this offseason. The only news I’ve seen on him is from his personal blog, saying he’s begun working out and hasn’t decided on a team for 2012 yet. It’s reasonable to assume that most NPB rotations would benefit from having him around.
  • Dan Johnson — Johnson played for Yokohama in 2009, and was solid aside from a .215 batting average. Since then, he’s returned to US with the Rays organization, where he’s played well in Durham but been overmatched in Tampa Bay, and developed a penchant for clutch home runs. He does enough things well to be of value to an NPB team.
  • Derrek Lee — Had they not already signed Josh Whitesell, Lee might have been a first base match for Lotte, an organization that once employed his father and uncle (Leon Lee and Leron Lee). Derrek spent part of his youth in Japan.
  • Marcus Thames — Thames has appeared on NPB team’s foreign player candidate lists in the past, but surprising he’s only gotten one previous mention on this site. Power was the rarest skill in Japan last year, and Thames has shown plenty at both the 3A and MLB level.
  • Bill Hall — Hall is something of a personal favorite; I thought he would have a better MLB career than he’s had. He still has at least two solid strengths – a power bat and a strong throwing arm – that match up with teams in need of third base help (Yokohama?).

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  1. Patrick
    patrick wilson
    17/01/2012 at 1:22 pm Permalink

    If Kawakami really said “hasn’t decided yet” it must mean he’s NPB bound?

  2. Patrick
    17/01/2012 at 8:10 pm Permalink

    I still wonder what Kawakami did that got him banished to AA.

  3. Patrick
    18/01/2012 at 6:50 pm Permalink

    do you know if/when masahiro tanaka will be posted. also what kind of stuff does he have?

  4. Patrick
    18/01/2012 at 7:33 pm Permalink

    Wow. With Darvish signing, I was wondering who would be the next guy to be endlessly speculated about going to the US. Looks like we already have a winner!

  5. Patrick
    18/01/2012 at 9:02 pm Permalink

    No kidding. That was fast.

  6. Patrick
    19/01/2012 at 7:42 am Permalink

    I think Kawakami got banished for the same reasons Kei Igawa did. Not much upside there, so they decided to give the spot to an actual prospect. Both pitchers should return to the NPB ASAP in my opinion.

  7. Patrick
    19/01/2012 at 11:12 am Permalink

    I agree with the Kei Igawa comparison, but I was surprised the Braves didn’t give him a start or two last year at the end of the season when they were having injuries to their rotation and their season was slipping away. It wasn’t really time to think about the future at that point. He must have not been fully healthy or they just had no confidence in him, despite his decent first year.

  8. Patrick
    19/01/2012 at 12:11 pm Permalink

    I don’t really agree with the Igawa comp, Kawakami showed a lot more in his first 1.5 years in MLB than Igawa ever did.

    Igawa just comes across as a quirky character who couldn’t adjust.

  9. Patrick
    19/01/2012 at 1:24 pm Permalink

    Yeah, not saying I agree with the comparison of the players and what they did in the majors, but I think the reasons why they weren’t ever brought back to their big clubs is comparable. Like Kyle said, the Braves especially, had other younger pitchers with more upside that it made more sense to go with them instead of KK to start the season, but I would have giving him shot late in the season when Hanson was out and Lowe was getting rocked. Hoping he will return to Chunichi, that would really help with losing Chen.

  10. Patrick
    19/01/2012 at 11:37 pm Permalink

    In the majors
    Igawa xFIP: 5.56
    Kawakami xFIP: 4.49


  11. Patrick
    20/01/2012 at 12:13 am Permalink

    Also in the majors

    Kawakami 243.2 IP
    Igawa 73.2 IP

    The funny thing is, as prospects looking up to MLB, I would have valued Igawa higher given his lefthanded his and the potential for his changeup to be a plus pitch. At the very least he should have been an OK reliever.

  12. Patrick
    25/01/2012 at 7:50 pm Permalink

    Does yu darvish have a brother? i think i heard so but i am not sure. if yes, does he play baseball?

  13. Patrick
    27/01/2012 at 11:28 am Permalink

    He has two, but neither play baseball professionally.