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Yesterday (12/8) at a hotel in San Domingo, Dominican Republic, Hanshin Tigers first baseman Mauro Gomez signed a one-year contract with the team for 2015.
Gomez’s response to the signing: “I’m so glad the contract is finished. Just knowing that I will be playing at Koshien again next season makes the long hard flight to Japan bearable! We made it to the Nippon Series this year but we didn’t win, so next year we want to win it all, starting in the regular season. Personally I’m gonna do all I can to put up better numbers than last year, increase my home runs a little, too. First I have to build up my strength again and get ready for camp in February. I look forward to hearing you all cheering from the stands again next season.”
The neighbors across the road snuck into your house and stole the biggest present from under your Christmas tree. Hard to leave the house with a smile on your face, isn’t it? Perhaps the Tigers’ top offseason priority was signing MLB-returnee Hiroyuki Nakajima to a contract. They offered multiple years at a rate they thought was competitive, but ultimately the middle infielder took a more favorable offer from the Orix Buffaloes.
The Tigers went into negotiations basically unwilling to negotiate or up their offer, stating they did not want to play money games. They offered Nakajima other incentives, like the number 6, last worn by legend Tomoaki Kanemoto, and also worn by current manager Yutaka Wada in his playing days.
In any case, the Tigers are now left to try to find a replacement for shortstop Takashi Toritani (who may still stay, and if not could be replaced at SS by Yamato). The gap in center field could then be filled by Tsuyoshi Nishioka, and third base manned by either Ryota Imanari or Ryota Arai.
Either way, the Tigers also have to face the reality that the best way to fill roster gaps is to raise players in your own farm system. Let’s hope the team can build up some strength through the draft and farm system.