According to Sanspo.com, there are reliable sources saying the Tigers are making the acquisition of Orix Buffaloes ace pitcher Chihiro Kaneko their top priority this off-season. While they cannot make this intention public (under tampering regulations), they have said that they want to strengthen the pitching staff.
And with good reason, too. Last off-season, they lost Kubo to DeNA and Standridge to Softbank, and while first draft pick Iwasada and sixth pick Iwazaki have managed to fill the gap, the reality is that the Tigers’ ERA this season ranks 5th in the Central League (4.03, better only than the pitiful Swallows’ 4.62). Kaneko is definitely a huge upgrade, as he leads the entire NPB with a sparkling 1.99 ERA.
Many Tigers fans would love to see the ace wearing pinstripes, but others are a little more cautious. One aficionado said anonymously, “You know why he always wears long spandex under his uniform? He can’t handle the heat and humidity and hates sweating. He is always a better pitcher in domed environments.” Interesting. Something I had never thought about, for sure. I do not think signing Kaneko would downgrade the staff by any means, but I sure hope the Tigers do not overpay for his services.