Tag Archive > Andruw Jones

2014 NPB Payrolls

» 25 February 2014 » In npb » 18 Comments

Alright, here we go, it’s time for the always popular post on Japanese team payrolls.

This data comes from the February 3, 2014 edition of Shukan Baseball via their handy iOS appSasuga, Shu-be.

These payroll figures are a little different from MLB numbers in that each team’s payroll covers its entire 70-man shihaika roster. This includes minor leaguers, but not players on the ikusei roster. So the average per player is a bit lower than if it were narrowed down to the top 25 or 40 players. NPB is also a little more egalitarian in the sense that minor leaguers earn a livable wage off.

My US dollar figures are based on an exchange rate of JPY102.5/$1, which was the market rate at the of writing. The Yen has weakened against the US Dollar by about 10 percent over the last year, so take the conversions with a grain of salt.

And aside from that, I’ll let the data speak for itself:

Team League Payroll JPY Payroll USD Average Per Player
Yomiuri Central ¥4,659,100,000 $45.45m 63 players, avg ¥73.95m/$721k
Softbank Pacific ¥4,000,300,000 $39m 65 players, avg ¥61.54/$600k
Hanshin Central ¥3,235,500,000 $31.56m 66 players, avg ¥49.05m/$478k
Rakuten Pacific ¥2,789,800,000 $27.22m 62 players, avg ¥45m/$439k
Chunichi Central ¥2,633,000,000 $25.69m 68 players, avg ¥38.36m/$374k
Lotte Pacific 2,491,450,000 $24.3m 64 players, avg ¥38.93m/$380k
Nippon Ham Pacific ¥2,410,500,000 $23.5m 67 players, avg ¥35.84m/$349k
Orix Pacific ¥2,397,250,000 $23.38m 67 players, avg ¥35.78m/$349k
Yakult Central ¥2,386,200,000 $23.28m 66 players avg ¥36.15m/$353k
Seibu Pacific ¥2,242,600,000 $21.88m 65 players avg ¥34.50m/$340k
Hiroshima Central ¥2,061,170,000 $20.1m 66 players, avg ¥31.23m/$305k
DeNA Central ¥1,9270,000,000 $18.8m 65 players, avg ¥29.65m/$290k

To add context, here are some interesting facts about NPB salaries:

  • 91 NPB players make JPY100m (about $1m) or above. 65 are Japanese, 26 are foreign.
  • Japan’s highest-paid player is Yomiuri catcher Shinnosuke Abe at JPY600m ($6m). He actually turned down a higher salary for Yomiuri, because he felt he was not ready to surpass the JPY610m that Hideki Matsui made in his final season with the Giants.
  • The highest paid foreign player is Rakuten’s Andruw Jones, at JPY400m. I believe he’s being paid in dollars, in the amount of $3.8m. To get a better idea of how foreign players are paid, read this post.
  • The lowest paid shihaika roster player is Rakuten rookie pitcher Ryuta Konno, at JPY4.4m ($44k).

I’ll delve into why Japanese baseball salaries aren’t higher in a later article.

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Rakuten’s Championship Roster

» 21 January 2014 » In npb » 3 Comments

In 2004, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles didn’t exist. The Kintetsu Buffaloes did, and after years in the red, the Kintetsu corporation decided to divest itself of it’s baseball operation. When no buyer could be found, Kintetsu’s management opted to merge with the neighboring Orix Blue Wave franchise, resulting in the contraction of the Kintetsu organization. Both the Osaka-based Kintetsu and the Kobe-based Orix were minnows in terms of fan base compared to the region’s beloved Hanshin Tigers, so some market contraction actually made sense.

But no one liked the idea of league contraction. The Orix-Kintetsu merger would leave an 11-team NPB, and there were talks of contracting another team and doing away with the two-league format. Fans held protests, Livedoor.com founder Takafumi Horie stepped in with an offer to buy the Buffaloes, and late in the season the players union held the first, and so far, only, strike in its history, refusing to play weekend games. It worked, and the owners agreed to allow an expansion franchise. By this time, Rakuten founder Hiroshi Mikitani had gotten involved, and a hearing was held to decide whether Livedoor or Rakuten would be awarded the new franchise. The hearing panel chose Rakuten, citing its more stable business and ownership of the Vissel Kobe J-League soccer team. The Orix-Kintetsu merger proceeded as planned, with the resulting team to be known as the Orix Buffaloes.

And so the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles were born, to begin play in 2005, based in Sendai in Japan’s Tohoku region (northern Honshu). The team would play in Miyagi Stadium, the 1970’s home of the Lotte Orions (now the Chiba Lotte Marines).

Eight years later, in 2013, the Eagles won their first NPB championship. So how’d they get there?

Rakuten started out with a roster of zero, and there was to be a surplus of players from the Orix-Kintetsu merger, so NPB held a dispersal draft of sorts. All of the players from the previous Orix and Kintetsu teams were placed into a pool, then the new Orix team was allowed to select 25 players all at once, in the first “round”. Then Rakuten could choose 20 players from the remainder of the pool. The Orix could choose another 20, and so on until all the players were assigned to a new team.

While the initial draft process was stacked in favor of Orix, it did yield two players who played in game 7 of the 2013 Japan Series for Rakuten: outfielders Toshiya Nakashima (from Orix) and Akihisa Makita (from Kintetsu). More notably, Kintetsu ace Hisashi Iwakuma refused to play for the merged team, and demanded a trade to Rakuten. The Eagles started off as kind of a literal embodiment of the common sports radio topic “if you had one player to start a franchise with, who would it be?”

From there, Rakuten set about building their team the traditional way, mostly building through the draft. There are enough words in this already, so let’s fast forward to 2013 and look at where the Eagles’ primary contributors came from (2013 acquisitions bolded):

Position Player Acquired
C Motohiro Shima 2006 draft, 3rd round
1B Ginji 2005 draft (high school), 3rd round
2B Kazuya Fujita 2012 mid-season trade from Baystars (Kensuke Uchimura)
3B Casey McGehee* 2012-2013 offseason MLB free agent
SS Kazuo Matsui 2010-2011 offseason MLB free agent
IF Tatsuro Iwasaki 2012-2013 offseason trade with Dragons (cash)
OF/C Takero Okajima 2011 draft, 4th round
OF/DH Andruw Jones 2012-2013 offseason MLB free agent
OF Ryo Hijirsawa 2007 draft, 4th round
OF Shintaro Masuda 2005 draft (high school), 3rd round
OF Teppei** 2005-2006 offseason trade with Dragons (cash)
SP Masahiro Tanaka*** 2006 draft (high school), 1st round
SP Takahiro Norimoto 2012 draft, 2nd round
SP Manabu Mima 2010 draft, 2nd round
SP Brandon Duckworth 2012 midseason acquisition from Red Sox
SP Kenji Tomura 2009 draft, 1st round
SP Wataru Karashima 2008 draft, 6th round
SP Satoshi Nagai 2006 draft, 1st round
RP Koji Aoyama 2005 draft, 3rd round
RP Darrell Rasner 2008-2009 offseason acquisition from Yankees (cash)
RP Takashi Saito 2012-2013 offseason MLB free agent
RP Kohei Hasebe 2007 draft, 1st round
RP Kenny Ray 2013 midseason acquisition from Mexican League
RP Norihito Kaneto 2012-2013 offseason trade from Yomiuri (cash)
RP Hiroshi Katayama 2005 draft (high school), 1st round
* Signed with the Marlins for 2014
** Traded to Orix for 2014
*** Has been posted to MLB for 2014 but not yet signed with a new team

The first thing that jumps out is the obvious divide between position players and pitchers Rakuten’s drafts. Rakuten has never used a first round pick on a position player, and has never developed a home-grown offensive star. 65 of the Eagles’ 97 home runs were provided by MLB free agent signees McGehee, Jones, and Matsui. The home-grown players are on-base types, at best.

Rakuten’s pitching staff was primarily acquired through the draft as well, mostly with earlier round picks. The Eagles mostly hit singles and doubles with their picks, but connected for a home run with Norimoto, and launched an epic grand slam with Tanaka. Beyond those two picks, the pitchers in this list are a bunch of singles and doubles. Hasebe finally broke out a bit in 2013, but still only provided 34.1 innings of relief work, and that’s the first sign he’s shown of coming anywhere close to his 1st round billing.

So does Rakuten have another championship-caliber roster in 2014? Maybe. Signing Kevin Youklis to replace the departing McGehee was a gutsy move, but Youk’ll have to be healthy to fill Casey’s shoes. And key offensive cogs Jones and Matsui are another year older.

The bigger departure, obviously, is Tanaka. Filling his shoes is obviously going to be impossible, but the Eagles might be able to claw back some of his competitive value with improved depth. Rakuten’s three and four starters were pretty mediocre (Mima, 4.12 ERA in 98.1 IP; Duckworth, 4.31 in 87.2). Maybe Travis Blackley shows up and pitches 150 innings of 3.50 ball. Maybe Satoshi Nagai bounces back toward his 2010 form (182.2 IP, 3.74). Perhaps lefty Takahiro Shiomi, who missed all of 2013, recovers and provides 100 IP. Or maybe wakawashi like Yoshinao Kamata and Yudai Mori chip in some value.

Or, even if none of that happens in 2014, at least the Eagles get to play the season as defending NPB champions. In their 55 years of existence, the Kintetsu Buffaloes never did.

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1st Year Foreign Player Payscale

» 22 December 2013 » In nichibei, npb » 7 Comments

I get asked from time to time how much ball players make in Japan, particularly the foreign ones. With Kevin Youkilis becoming the latest bari bari Major Leaguer to venture to NPB, it seemed like a good time to publish this rough guideline.

This was part of a longer article, from my train commute ramblings, thats unfinished and kind of outdated, so the salaries don’t reflect what’s happened so far in the 2013-2014 offseason. That said, it’s still mostly accurate. “Mostly” is kind of a key word, because there is always going to be some variance from team to team, and with injury history and other factors. This is a basic framework.

Salary Range Profile Recent Examples
$3M+ MLB All-Star Experience Andruw Jones, Bryan LaHair, Vicente Padilla
$1M-3M a couple of complete seasons as an MLB regular, maybe a few years in the past; elite Korean players Casey McGehee, Jose Lopez, Nyjer Morgan, Dae-Ho Lee
$400k-1M “4A player”; fringe 40-man roster player, consistently strong performance in 3A; varying MLB experience; strong performance in Korea Daniel Cabrera, Ryan Spilborghs, Fred Lewis, Jason Dickson, John Bowker, Matt Clark, Brooks Conrad
$100k-300k 2A/3A experience, Taiwan, Mexico, US independent leagues, etc Michel Abreu, Orlando Roman, Jim Heuser
<$100k non-ikusei veteran; Japanese independent leagues; Carribean Winter Leagues; Italian League Alessandro Maestri, Enyelbert Soto
$25k-50k “ikusei” player; Dominican/Venezuelan Summer League; Japanese independent leagues Edgar Lara, Edison Barrios, Abner Abreu

For more on NPB payrolls, please see this post.

Update: If you’re new here, consider following me on Twitter: @npbtracker. I update my Twitter account more often than the website.

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Spring Training Story Lines

» 03 February 2013 » In npb » 2 Comments

Spring has arrived in Okinawa, and NPB camps are underway. As with every new season, there are a number of stories developing. Here are a few to look out for:

  • How long before Nippon Ham settles on a position for Shohei Ohtani?

Part of Nippon Ham’s pitch to Ohtani was letting him pitch and hit. Ohtani has the physique and high school track record to make this a very interesting idea, but I suspect that reality will eventually settle in and he’ll wind up sticking to his best role. That said, here’s hoping he pulls it off. I’d love to see him come in from right field to close a game.

  • How will top draftee Shintaro Fujinami adapt to life as a pro?

There is no such positional debate about the other high school prize of last year’s draft, Hanshin pitcher Fujinami. The sentiment echoed throughout the Japanese media following the draft was the question of whether Hanshin has the ability to develop a pitcher with the potential of “Mount Fuji”; now we begin to find out.

  • How will Yomiuri draftee Tomoyuki Sugano perform after a year away from competition?

Sugano took a year off in 2012, after his rights were won by the Nippon Ham Fighters in the 2011 draft. Undeterred, the Giants grabbed him uncontested in the first round of the 2012 draft, and he immediately signed. If he’s some approximation of this, the Giants will be quite happy he was insistent on playing for them.

  • Which of the bari bari Major Leaguers will sink and which will swim?

Andruw Jones, Bryan LaHair, Casey McGehee, Jose Lopez, Vincente Padilla and Nyjer Morgan are among this year’s NPB imports. It’s always hard to predict who will do well in Japan, but I’m particularly pessimistic about Padilla and Morgan.

  • Who will step in to Hiroyuki Nakajima’s shoes for Seibu?

History repeats itself. 10 years ago, Nakajima stepped forward as the replacement for star shortstop Kazuo Matsui, who had departed for the Majors. Now Seibu finds itself needing a replacement for Nakajima. It looked like Hideto Asamura could emerge as a successor, but he failed to impress last season. A return to form from speedster Yasuyuki Kataoka would be welcome, and perhaps Esteban German could see time at shortstop.

  • Who is Eddy Rivera?

Billed a “mystery” player, Rivera is in camp with the Chunichi Dragons on a trial basis (“testo sei“). Rivera has Dominican Summer League experience with academy affiliates of the Cardinals and Padres, but hasn’t appeared in a game since 2010.

Rivera stepped off his flight from the Dominican and immediately impressed with his velocity. Chunichi has found Latin American bargains such as Tony Blanco and Enyelbert Soto in recent years, we’ll see if lightning strikes again.

  • Has Orix improved?

Orix recently grabbed headlines for acquiring star outfielder Yoshio Itoi in a trade with Nippon Ham, but has made a couple other interesting moves this offseason. The Buffaloes signed 2B Keiichi Hirano, picked up starter Shun Tono in a trade with Yomiuri, and snagged closer Takahiro Mahara as compensation for losing free agent starter Hayato Terahara. On the negative side of the ledger, the B’s parted ways with talented, but health-challenged starters Terahara Hiroshi Kisanuki, as well as Alfredo Figaro. Orix is still on the outside looking in at a top-3 finish, but if everything goes absolutely right for them, they could make things interesting.

  • Has Yokohama DeNA improved?

DeNA’s offseason largely consisted of poaching Tony Blanco, Jorge Sosa and Enyelbert Soto from Chunichi, getting OF Hitoshi Tamura back from Softbank, and signing Nyjer Morgan. All of these moves, with the probable exception of Morgan, improve the Baystars, but none really addresses the team’s main weaknesses of the starting rotation and middle infield. The real step forward will have to be lead by the ‘Stars young players: 3B Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, C Shuto Takajo, pitchers Yuki Kuniyoshi and Kisho Kagami, and 2012 draftees IF Hiroyuki Shirasaki and pitcher Kazuki Mishima.

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Rakuten To Sign Saito

» 28 December 2012 » In nichibei, npb » Comments Off

After signing Andruw Jones and Casey McGehee, the word was the that Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles were looking to add a third Major Leaguer. According to multiple reports, that expectation has been nearly fulfilled, as Rakuten has agreed to a one-year contract with Takashi Saito, pending a physical. An official announcement is expected as soon as the 29th (JST). According to Sponichi, the deal is worth JPY 30m (US $350k), but will be worth over JPY 100m (US $1.5m) if Saito reaches all his incentive bonuses.

“We want him to perform well and become a symbol of Tohoku’s recovery, and we expect him to pass his Major League experience on to our young players,” commented Rakuten team president Yozo Tachibana.

Sponichi quotes an associate of Saito’s calling this move “the culmination of his baseball life”. It’s certainly move that carries a more symbolism than most free agent signings, as Saito’s home town is Sendai, where Rakuten plays it’s home games. He returns to Japan after a phenomenal seven-year run as an MLB reliever.

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Reports: Rakuten Agrees with McGehee

» 20 December 2012 » In nichibei, npb » 1 Comment

Multiple reports out of the Japanese media machine say that the Rakuten Golden Eagles have agreed to a contract with third baseman Casey McGehee. I’ll link to the Sankei/MSN report, which tells us that McGehee will get $1.3m on a one-year deal, and quotes Rakuten scouting director Hiroshi Abei as saying that an official announcement would be possible after McGehee completes his physical.

McGehee is Rakuten’s second big signing of the offseason, the first being Andruw Jones. McGehee replaces the released Akinori Iwamura as Rakuten’s third baseman. Yomiuri had also been reportedly interested in acquiring MaGehee.

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Nikkan Sports: Rakuten Agrees with Andruw Jones

» 07 December 2012 » In nichibei, npb » 3 Comments

Nikkan Sports is reporting that the Rakuten Golden Eagles have agreed to a deal with a bari bari Major Leaguer, veteran Andruw Jones. Nikkan Sports estimates the value of the deal at JPY 300m ($3.5m or s0) including signing bonus, base salary, and performance bonuses. An official announcement is expected after Jones takes a physical.

Nikkan Sports is the only publication that has this news right now, but it’s plausible. Rakuten released all their foreign position players after the season and was said to want to make a splash this offseason. They had been rumored to have interest in Manny Ramirez as well.

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