Hanshin Tigers SS Toritani – Blue Jays Make Official Offer

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Photo taken from sportsnet.ca

The original article can be seen here 元の記事はこちら

Hanshin Tigers international free agent Takashi Toritani (33) has received an official offer from the Toronto Blue Jays to be their second baseman on the 23rd. Sources revealed that Toritani’s agent, Scott Boras (62) has met and negotiated with the team several days in a row. It also appears the Padres are making attempts to acquire Toritani as well.

Blue Jays' GM Anthopoulos at MLB winter meetings

Blue Jays’ GM Anthopoulos at MLB winter meetings

At last, an official offer has been presented to the man who has dreamed of playing on the big stage for years. Blue Jays’ GM Alex Anthopoulos made public the Jays’ high estimation of Toritani as a potential second baseman in a local radio talk show interview on the 17th. Major league sources have said that “the Blue Jays have put an official contract offer on the table and negotiated with his agent several days in a row.”

However, the Jays’ top priority is said to be strengthening their mid-relievers, and that Toritani is the final piece of the puzzle, and that the budget is limited. Other sources have said that Toritani is looking at this contract offer and noticing it is not as favorable as the ¥300 million yen that the Hanshin Tigers have offered him.

On the other hand, the Padres are seeking to make Toritani their shortstop. They’ve got Amarista and Barmes as candidates to be starting shortstops but would like to strengthen their depth at the position by adding Toritani. The Jays see him as a starting second baseman. The Padres are thinking of using him at his original position, shortstop. And then there are the Hanshin Tigers, who are set to offer him a much more favorable contract than the two major league teams. The time for Toritani to make his decision is drawing nearer.

Presently, the Hanshin Tigers are waiting to hear back from Toritani. Since declaring his intent to test the waters overseas, he has met with the club once in November and twice in December. The Tigers have indicated they want to sign him to a huge contract. They are hoping against hope that he will bring good news to them in the new year, as they see him as an instrumental part of their title run.

Offseason Report 7 – Oh Signs his 2015 Contract

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Closer Seung-hwan Oh joined the Tigers before the 2014 season with an agreement to play two years, but the contract for that second year was not signed until yesterday. Now that he is officially back, the Tigers will start next year with the exact same four foreigners (the limit for active rosters in Nippon Professional Baseball) as they had last season.

Said the Korean stopper: “It was great to play for an excellent organization like the Tigers this year. But I regret not being able to win it all at the end. Next year I’m going to do my best to be one of the team’s core players, and contribute to us winning it all.”

Of course we wish you all the best in 2015, Mr. Oh! Thanks for a great 2014! Let’s get the title in 2015!

In other news, the team is still trying really hard to sign free agent ace pitcher Chihiro Kaneko. The (former?) Orix Buffalo was the recipient of the Eiji Sawamura Award in 2014 and has expressed interest in being posted (i.e. going to the major leagues) in the near future. The Tigers are among 5 teams (none of these are the Giants) reportedly interested in the 31-year old.

Offseason Report 5 – Randy Messenger Signs On for Two More Years

Becoming a Legend

Tigers’ Messenger Looks to Catch the Great Bacque and Lead the Team to the Top

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Messenger signs a 2-year contract worth 500 million yen (US$4.2 M) at a Knoxville hotel restaurant on December 14. Photo taken from Sanspo.com

The original article, written by Kenji Miki, can be found here 元の記事は三木建次氏によって書かれた

Gonna be a legend! Pitcher Randy Messenger (33) signed a 2-year contract (worth 500 million yen) with the Tigers through the end of 2016 at a hotel at McGee Tyson Airport (Knoxville, Tennessee) on the 14th. This season, his fifth in Japan, saw him record 13 wins and his first “most wins” title, but he wants more in 2015. Should he reach double figures in wins for the fifth straight year and win his second straight “most wins” title, he would become the “Greatest Foreign Pitcher of All Time.”

As his right hand scrawled his signature across the page, the curtain opens on Messenger’s legend. Negotiations took place in a hotel in Tennessee. His facial expression brimmed with the same confidence as he shows when he stands tall on the mound.

“I hope to stand strong on the rotation again and whenever I’m starting, I want to do everything I can to give my team a chance to win.”

With 13 wins in his fifth season in Japan, the man already won his first “most wins” title and his second straight “most strikeouts” title (with 226) but he is setting the bar even higher for next year. The righty will be 34 years old in August, but he could win the title of “Legendary Foreigner” in the hearts of fans.

He’s got double-digit win totals every year since 2011, and if he can do it again in 2015 he will become the third foreigner (after the Tigers’ Gene Bacque and the Marines’ Katsuo So) since the 2-league era started to do so. Of course for Messenger, this is just a short stop on the road to even greater things. Should he get through the summer in good shape, he could also become just the third foreign pitcher (after Kip Lee Gross of the Nippon Ham Fighters in 1995-96 and Seth Greisinger of the Yakult Swallows in 2007 and Yomiuri Giants in 2008) to nab the “most wins” title in back-to-back seasons. No pitcher has accomplished both of these. Doing so would make him the “Greatest Foreign Pitcher of All Time.”

Tigers legend Gene Bacque is the team's last foreign pitcher to record double digits in wins 5 in consecutive seasons (1964-1968). Photo taken from Sanspo.com

Tigers legend Gene Bacque is the team’s last foreign pitcher to record double digits in wins 5 in consecutive seasons (1964-1968). Photo taken from Sanspo.com

But it’s not just about setting records. Naturally, the team is also relying heavily on the righty. The team’s attempts to sign free agents this offseason have all gone sour, leaving the team with just four of their six rotation spots (Mess, Nohmi, Fujinami and Iwata) solidified. The lineup is the same as it was this past season. Messenger threw the most innings of any pitcher in either league, with 208 ⅓. Naturally the team is counting on the man who threw on 4 days’ rest and got the team a bunch of wins. “We expect, and even need, greater numbers (than this year’s) from him next season,” said pitching coach Nakanishi.

As though he could still hear the crowd at Koshien cheering all the way from his home country, Messenger said, “I’m so happy to be able to pitch before Hanshin Tigers fans next season. They stay loud all the way through the game, which pushes me to play harder for them.” He’s planning to train for next year near his home in Kentucky, but he will not throw until next year. More important than practicing his throwing is building the stamina to be able to throw well the entire season. That and taking care of his shoulder are top priority.

“What we were able to do in the playoffs this year is a huge confidence builder for next season.”

Next season is the team’s 80-year anniversary. Foreign import righty #54 looks to lead the team to its first league title in 10 years, first championship in 30, and becoming a true legend.

Offseason Report 3 – Gomez Signs Up for 2015!

The original article can be found here 元の記事はこちら

maurogomezhanshintigerscontract2015Yesterday (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.”