More Toritani and Blue Jays News (Unrelated in a way)

toritani3Sanspo is reporting that Toritani has signed a monster contract (for Japan) with the Tigers: a 5-year deal worth ¥2-billion (around US$16.9 million). This means he will be with the organization at least through his 38th birthday, and likely for the remainder of his career. Management, among others, look forward to being able to retire his number at the end of what could be quite the illustrious career. Numbers may not compare favorably (two different leagues and in Ripken’s case, eras) but the shortstop has a chance to mean to the Tigers what Derek Jeter meant to the Yankees and what Cal Ripken meant to the Orioles. Both had long, productive careers with one organization, and were outstanding leaders and fan favourites. Toritani and Ripken are among the first names that come to mind when thinking of iron men. Currently, Toritani has played in 1466 straight games, which is still well short of Ripken’s 2632, but still very impressive. Should Tori play all regular season games the remainder of his contract, he would end his age 38 season at 2186 games. Either way, it is great to have him back with the organization!

On another note, I stumbled across his Facebook page, which I had no idea existed until Tigers Pride posted a French translation to Facebook. Here is an English translation, along with the original statement. Nothing too exciting, but worth a read.

ToritaniFacebook

Happy New Year!
At the end of last season, I decided to test the international free agent market. I thought long and hard about all the possibilities, and yesterday decided to return to the Hanshin Tigers.
I know my decision came kind of late and I caused a lot of fans and others some grief.
This season I will play with all my might and hope to share the joy of winning the pennant and Nippon Series with all the fans. I look forward to your continued support this year.
Right now I am in Okinawa doing voluntary training with Chiba Lotte’s Iguchi, as I have done every year. I’m doing all I can to get in shape for spring training!

Photo courtesy of sanspo.com

Photo courtesy of sanspo.com

In other news, the Toronto Blue Jays have re-signed 2B/SS Munenori Kawasaki to a minor-league contract for 2015. It appears he will be guaranteed $120,000 if he stays in the minors all season, but the split contract also means an increase to $700,000 if he gets called up from the farm team. Kawasaki is a huge fan favorite in Toronto and is also well-liked by his teammates. While he is not quite Takashi Toritani, the Blue Jays could end up with a decent Japanese 2B at a reasonable price after all.

Photo courtesy of sanspo.com

Photo courtesy of sanspo.com

Not only that, but the Jays are also apparently one of three teams showing interest in 41-year old legend Ichiro Suzuki. The Orioles and Marlins are also in the running. Should Ichiro join the Jays, it would be like a dream come true for Kawasaki, who lists Ichiro as his hero. The two played together briefly in Seattle in 2012 before Ichiro moved to the Yankees in a trade. Kawasaki was released at season’s end and joined the Blue Jays at the start of the 2013 season.

Offseason Report 4 – MLB Blue Jays Rumoured to be Interested in Toritani

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

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Takashi Toritani played solidly at 2B during the 2013 WBC. Photo taken from Sponichi.

I’ll be the first to admit it. I was one of the more cynical Hanshin Tigers fans when I heard that shortstop Takashi Toritani had his heart set on playing in the major leagues starting in 2015. I mean, who would want a soon-to-be 34 year old who has no experience living, let alone playing, in America? Especially one with little power and little speed? Add on to that a negotiating condition: must be used as a starting member. So today’s Sponichi front cover caught me off guard:

The Toronto Blue Jays are considering offering Toritani a contract to be their starting second baseman? Of course with Jose Reyes firmly (if brittlely) positioned at shortstop, there was no way they could talk about him playing his regular position. However, Toritani showed his versatility in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, playing three infield positions well, including second base.

Since the Jays used 7 different players at second last season (the most regular being now-free agent Munenori Kawasaki, who played 49 games), they are clearly looking for an upgrade. Sponichi mentions that team Pacific Rim scout (and former LA Dodgers GM) Dan Evans watched Toritani play in 10 or so games this season, and liked what he saw. Not only is his defence solid, but he has gotten on base better than 40% of the time for two straight seasons. Obviously, Toritani’s agent, Scott Boras, also has great things to say about his client: “He is so good at stopping anything hit his way, he could play any infield position.”

While other teams have viewed Toritani as a potential utility infielder (i.e. filling in the gaps as injuries and slumps happen), the Jays are the only team so far that has given serious thought to making him a regular fixture in their lineup. Having already signed free agent catcher Russell Martin, and trading for all-star 3B Josh Donaldson and outfielder Michael Saunders, the Blue Jays are looking to be one of the most stacked lineups in the American League next year.

For his part, Toritani has made his stance clear: a contract with a major league club takes precedence over all, even denying the Tigers a chance to negotiate with him: “It’s all in my agents hands now.”

Should the Blue Jays make an offer, Toritani’s days of dreaming about the major leagues could be over. Expect to hear more concrete news about the (former?) Tigers’ captain soon.