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Tag:Japan
Posted on: December 16, 2011 11:50 pm
 

Hisashi Iwakuma drawing interest from 5 teams

Hisashi IwakumaBy C. Trent Rosecrans

While we all await official word on who won the Yu Darvish bidding, another Japanese pitcher is getting closer to picking his new team in Major League Baseball. Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma is expected to make a decision sometime around the new year, Iwakuma's agent, Paul Cobbe told Daily Sports in Japan (via YakyuBaka.com).

The Athletics, Twins, Pirates and Nationals -- and another, unnamed west-coast team, are mentioned as teams with interested in Iwakuma.

Last year the A's won the bidding when the Rakuten Golden Eagles posted Iwakuma. However, the two sides couldn't come to an agreement after the thirty-day negotiating period. The A's reportedly won the bidding with a $19.1 million bid, but couldn't come to an agreement. At the time, it was believed Iwakuma was looking for something around $12 million per year, while the A's were offering no more than $5 million. After returning to Japan for 2011, Iwakuma became an international free agent and will be able to chose his team. He has also hired a new agent.

Iwakuma went 6-7 with a 2.42 ERA in 119 innings in 2011 for the fifth-place (of six teams) Golden Eagles, but had some shoulder problems. He struck out 90 batters and walked 19 in his 17 starts. He is 107-69 with a 3.25 ERA in his career. He won Japan's equivalent of the Cy Young Award and the Pacific League MVP in 2008, when he went 21-4 with a 1.87 ERA.

In the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Iwakuma started the championship game over Darvish, who closed out the game. Iwakuma finished the tournament with a 1.35 ERA -- the lowest of any pitcher who threw more than 15 innings in the tournament -- and was named to the All-Tournament team.

While not the potential ace that Darvish is, Iwakuma could be a good option for a team in search of help in the middle or back of the rotation.

Iwakuma will turn 31 in April.

Below is a video that focuses on his ground ball rate.



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Posted on: December 9, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 6:41 pm
 

Best free agents left after winter meetings



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The winter meetings are over and some of the biggest names on the free-agent market are off the table, but that doesn't mean the hot stove has died out. So, the day after Albert Pujols and the Angels shocked the baseball world, here's a look at the top five position players and pitchers left on the market:

Postition players

Prince Fielder1. Prince Fielder -- The 27-year-old Fielder is the biggest fish left on the market, averaging more than 38 home runs in his six full seasons in the big leagues and posting a .929 career OPS. Whoever lands Fielder will get a shot to the lineup. The knock is Fielder's weight and the length of a contract.

Possible landing spots: Brewers, Blue Jays, Cubs, Mariners, Marlins

Carlos Beltran2. Carlos Beltran -- Beltran's been a bit of a forgotten name in all the winter meetings talk. Beltran will be 35 in April and just finished a seven-year deal with the Mets. After being limited by injuries in his last two seasons, Beltran had a bounce-back year, hitting .300/.385/.525 with 22 homers and 84 RBI and doing that in two home ballparks not known to be friendly to hitters, Citi Field and AT&T Park. He can still play center field, but is probably better suited on a corner.

Possible landing spots: Cardinals, Nationals, Red Sox, Tigers, Braves, Mariners, Cubs

Aramis Ramirez3. Aramis Ramirez -- Even though he has 14 years in the big leagues under his belt, Ramirez is just 33 and coming off a .306/.361/.510 season with 26 homers and 93 RBI. A two-time All-Star, he's by far the best third baseman on the market -- and it's not even close.

Possible landing spots: Brewers, Phillies, Marlins

Michael Cuddyer4. Michael Cuddyer -- Cuddyer will be 33 in March and can play both the corner outfield and infield spots, offering teams a versatile player. He hit .284/.346/.459 with 20 homers last season and hit 32 homers in 2009 before the Twins moved to spacious Target Field. The Twins have reportedly already offered him a three-year deal, as have the Rockies.

Possible landing spots: Rockies, Twins, Phillies, Giants, Red Sox

Jimmy Rollins5. Jimmy Rollins -- It seems odd to consider the 2007 MVP in anything but a Phillies uniform, but Pujols is now in California, so anything's possible. Rollins' offensive numbers have dropped off since his MVP season, but he still plays a premium position -- and one a couple of teams need to fill. A three-time Gold Glove winner, Rollins turned 33 last month. If he re-signs with the Phillies, it could be his last contract. Rollins is reportedly searching for a five-year contract, a tactic that may scare away every team other than the Phillies.

Possible landing spots: Phillies, Cardinals

Pitchers

Yu Darvish1. Yu Darvish -- The 25-year-old Japanese right-hander will reportedly be posted and has been seen as perhaps the best starter available. There's no shortage of teams that could be interested in Darvish, but the history of recent big-ticket Japanese pitchers could scare off some suitors and keep the posting fee lower than expected. Once his team in Japan, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighers, accept the posting, the winning team still has to negotiate with Darvish. The posting system, though, gives a chance for a surprise team to emerge the winner.

Possible landing spots: Rangers, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Nationals, Royals

Hiroki Kuroda2. Hiroki Kuroda -- There's no question of how Kuroda will perform in the big leagues -- he's gone 41-46 with a 3.45 ERA in four seasons with the Dodgers. Kuroda had a 13-16 record in 2011, despite putting up just a 3.07 ERA. He told the team he wouldn't give up his no-trade protection at the trade deadline, but the Dodgers have already found replacements for him in the rotation. He has one offer on the table already from the Hiroshima Carp in Japan, but would make more money in the U.S.

Possible landing spots: Cubs, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Red Sox, Carp

Edwin Jackson3. Edwin Jackson -- The fact that Jackson has already played for six different teams and he's just 28 may raise some flags, but he's also had six teams want him at some point and for good reason. Although Jackson has battled inconsistency, he's still had results at times. He was 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA for the Cardinals and White Sox last season. He's not a No. 1, but he's younger than some of the other second-tier starters on the market, increasing his value.

Possible landing spots: Twins, Rangers, Yankees, Cubs, Royals, Nationals, Pirates, Rockies, Orioles

Ryan Madson4. Ryan Madson -- Even though there were reports the right-hander had agreed to return to the Phillies earlier this offseason, the team turned to Jonathan Papelbon instead. The Red Sox, who along with the Reds, are still searching for a closer could end up signing Madson and seem the best fit. In his firs tseason as the Phillies' closer, Madson recorded 32 saves, going 4-2 with a 2.37 ERA, striking out 62 batters in 60 2/3 innings.

Possible landing spots: Red Sox, Reds, Phillies

Francisco Cordero5. Francisco Cordero -- Like Madson, Cordero seems to be on the outside of the closer game of musical chairs. The Red Sox and Reds are the only team left looking for a closer. The Reds were interested in bringing back Cordero with a discount after declining their $12 million option on the 36-year-old right-hander. Cordero converted 37 saves last season and 150 in four years in Cincinnati.

Possible landing spots: Red Sox, Reds, Twins

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Posted on: December 8, 2011 1:30 am
Edited on: December 8, 2011 2:18 am
 

Yu Darvish to be posted Thursday

Yu Darvish

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish will be posted by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighter on Thursday, his agent, Don Nomura, tweeted in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Darvish also posted the news on his blog (in Japanese). 

If C.J. Wilson signs quickly, as expected, Darvish, 25, will be the top starter left on the market.

Last season for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, Darvish went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA, striking out 276 batters in 232 innings. In his seven-year career, he's 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA, striking out at least 200 batters in the shorter Japanese season four times and walking more than 50 just once. He hasn't posted an ERA more than 2.00 since his second year in the top level of Japanese baseball -- and he was 19 for most of that season.

Many teams will be interested in the right-hander, including the Yankees, Blue Jays, Nationals, Angels and Rangers -- the five expected to be the front-runners. The Red Sox could also be interested, especially with new manager Bobby Valentine's experience in Japan where he managed against Darvish. Rosenthal tweets that Valentine "loves" Darvish. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos traveled to Japan this season to scout Darvish in person.

The posting is just the first part of a possible move stateside. After Darvish is posted, teams will have a period to submit blind bids for the opportunity to sign him. The team with the highest bid will win the right to negotiate with Darvish and after signing him will not only have to pay Darvish, but also the posting fee, which goes only to the Fighters.

Full Winter Meetings Coverage | Free Agent Tracker

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Posted on: December 3, 2011 8:39 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2011 9:39 pm
 

Saturday rumors: Kuroda, A's and more

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Saturday's the last day at home for a couple of days for most in baseball, as the winter meetings kick off Monday in Dallas -- and that goes for reporters, as well. That meant a rather light day in rumors, but expect things to pick up on Sunday and then go fast and furious on Monday. Last year news of Jayson Werth's deal with the Nationals came on the day before the start of the meetings, so that goes to show things don't just go down in the hotel lobby.

Hiroki KurodaThe news of Chris Capuano's signing with the Dodgers seemed to signal the end of Hiroki Kuroda's time in Los Angeles, and maybe even his time in the United States. However, the Rockies are pursuing Kuroda (Denver Post). Kuroda's also been mentioned as a possibility for the Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, Angels, Rangers and others. Kuroda blocked deals to the Tigers and Red Sox last season. WEEI.com reports Kuroda is open to pitching in Boston. His former team in Japan, the Hiroshima Carp, have also offered him a contract.

The A's could be popular in Dallas, as the team has pitching for sale. "I wouldn't rule anybody out," assistant GM David Forst told the San Francisco Chronicle. The A's are looking for an outfielder in return. Closer Andrew Bailey is among the most popular trade targets on the team, already drawing attention from the Rangers, Blue Jays, Reds, Padres, Mets and Mariners. (Chicago Tribune)

Someone put in a bid for Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. The Seibu Lions are expected to accept the bid, regardless of the amount. (Kyodo News)

Matt Garza's agent told the Cubs' right-hander to prepare for "an active winter meetings." Garza told him he'd be in Italy. Garza was dealt from the Rays to the Cubs last offseason and is under team control through 2013. The Cubs have let it be known that they're open to trading just about anyone. (MLB.com)

The Rockies are interested in Japanese second baseman Kensuke Tanaka. The left-handed hitter played in just 49 games this past season for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters because of an ankle injury, but is said to be healthy now. (FoxSports.com)

The Red Sox will meet with Bob Garber, the agent for C.J. Wilson and Roy Oswalt, during the winter meetings. (Boston Herald)

Not many have thought that Rays general manager Andrew Friedman would consider taking the Astros' GM job, but free agent outfielder Johnny Damon seems to think it's a possibility. "He's not going to sign me and then leave," Damon told the Boston Globe of Friedman. "If he goes to Houston, his hometown, he's going to try and bring me along with him. That's where my waiting game is." Damon also said he told David Ortiz to play in New York and take advantage of the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium.

Casey Blake is drawing interest from nine teams, including the Indians. He can play both corner outfield spots and both corner infield spots. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

The White Sox are looking to trade for a starter and an outfielder and are dangling John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Carlos Quentin and Matt Thornton. Among the teams that could be a match are the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Nationals, Reds and Braves. (Chicago Tribune)

Tim WakefieldKnuckleballer Tim Wakefield said he has a "strong desire" to pitch for the Red Sox next season. The 45-year-old needs seven wins to surpass Roger Clemens and Cy Young as the franchise's all-time leader. (Boston Herald)

The Reds held their annual RedsFest in Cincinnati this weekend, so there's plenty of news from the banks of the Ohio thanks to the media availability of GM Walt Jocketty, manager Dusty Baker and most of the team's roster and top prospects. Jocketty said the team is looking for a "top of the rotation" starter and have targeted six different players, but didn't name any of them. Jocketty also said the team had looked at Detroit infielder Ramon Santiago as a backup shortstop, and would ideally like to sign a left-handed hitter or switch hitter to back up Zack Cozart (Cincinnati Enquirer). Baker said the team is looking both internally and externally for a closer, but will not have a closer by committee to replace Francisco Cordero (MLB.com). 

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Posted on: December 3, 2011 3:30 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2011 6:56 pm
 

Conflicting reports on Darvish's posting

Yu Darvish
By C. Trent Rosecrans

After some doubt, it appears Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish will likely be posted sometime after the winter meetings, FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal tweets. Rosenthal notes it's not "100 percent" sure Darvish will be posted, but still expects it to happen. However, Darvish's father tells Sponichi in Japan that he doesn't expect his son to make a decision about his status until January.

"His table time does not say anything about making a decision in December," Farsad Darvish said (via YakyuBaka.com).  "He is talking to the team and will most likely make a decision by some time in mid to late January."

Darvish's father also said his son is currently "50-50" about whether or not to come to the United States and is worried about what could happen if negotiations don't go well, like last season when the A's failed to reach an agreement with Hisashi Iwakuma after placing the winning bid. 

Darvish, 25, is considered to be one of the top two starting pitchers on the market along with C.J. Wilson.

Last season for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, Darvish went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA, struking out 276 batters in 232 innings. In his seven-year career, he's 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA, striking out at least 200 batters in the shorter Japanese season  and walking more than 50 just once. He hasn't posted an ERA more than 2.00 since his second year in the top level of Japanese baseball -- and he was 19 for most of that season.

Many teams will be interested in the right-hander, including the Yankees, Blue Jays, Nationals and Rangers expected to be the front-runners. The Red Sox could also be interested, especially with new manager Bobby Valentine's experience in Japan where he managed against Darvish. Rosenthal tweets that Valentine "loves" Darvish. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos traveled to Japan this season to scout Darvish in person.

The posting is just the first part of a possible move stateside. After he's posted, teams will have a period to submit blind bids for the opportunity to sign Darvish. The team with the highest bid will win the right to negotiate with Darvish and after signing him will not only have to pay Darvish, but also the posting fee, which goes to the Fighters.

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Posted on: December 2, 2011 1:25 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 4:50 pm
 

Dodgers agree to deal with lefty Chris Capuano

Chris CapuanoBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Dodgers have signed left-hander Chris Capuano, the team announced on Friday. CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler confirms the deal is worth two years and $10 million.

Capuano, 34, was 11-12 with a 4.55 ERA in 33 games and 31 starts with the Mets last season, his first after Tommy John surgery. He was 44-48 with a 4.34 in the previous five seasons in Milwaukee.

The Dodgers already have Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly at the top of the rotation and have also been talking to Jeff Francis and Aaron Harang. The team could also use rookie Nathan Eovaldi in the rotation. 

The Dodgers have apprently lost hope in re-signing right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who didn't want to take a paycut from the $12.5 million he made last season. Kuroda could return to Japan, a place where he'd surely take a paycut. Reports in Japan say he's been offered $3.86 million (300 million Yen) to pitch for the Hiroshima Carp in 2012.

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Posted on: November 26, 2011 10:40 pm
 

Wily Mo Pena may be headed to Japan

Wily Mo Pena

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Wily Mo Pena, who played in 39 games between the Diamondbacks and Mariners in 2011, is close to signing with the Softbank Hawks in Japan, Sponichi in Japan is reporting (via YakyuBaka.com).

Pena hit 26 home runs as a 22-year-old for the Reds in 2004, but since then has been overwhelmed by Major League pitching in stints with the Red Sox, Nationals, Diamondbacks and Mariners. Pena was in independent baseball as recently as 2010 before signing the Padres in 2010 and then with the Diamondbacks.

Pena's signing would be a footnote if it weren't for his great name and his prodigious power -- but Pena, when he makes contact, can put the ball in seats, and beyond.

While Pena managed to hit just .204/.250/.416 with seven home runs in 120 plate appearances in the big leagues in 2011, he dominated in the minors, hitting .358/.440/.712 with 25 home runs in 332 plate appearances with Triple-A Reno and Tacoma. Japan is probably the best option for his career, and certainly for his wallet. The report says he could get a two-year deal worth 400 million Yen (currently about $5.15 million), plus incentives and will be announced in the next couple of days. Will he succeed? There are plenty of former big leaguers who do succeed in Japan, but there are just as many (if not more) who fail. At the very least, Hawks batting practices could be a lot more fun to watch next season.

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Posted on: November 18, 2011 7:43 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 7:45 pm
 

Dodgers unsure they can re-sign Hiroki Kuroda

Hiroki Kuroda

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Dodgers may have locked up Matt Kemp on Friday, but the prospects for keeping free agent right-hander Hiroki Kuroda seem dim.

"I think we're going to have a hard time signing him," general manager Ned Colletti told the Los Angeles Times' Steve Dilbeck.

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Colletti said he's spoken to Kuroda's agent several times, but let those talks without a feeling of optimism in his chances of re-signing the pitcher.

"We have two issues. One is whether he wants to stay here and the other is whether we can afford to keep him," Colletti said. Colletti added the team's payroll needs to decrease from last season's $113 opening day payroll.

Kuroda was steadfast in his desire to remain a Dodger at the trade deadline last season, keeping him in Los Angeles. The Dodgers had hoped to re-sign Kuroda to a one-year deal, but he could return to his native Japan to play if the Dodgers can't meet his salary demands. Kuroda made $12 million in 2011, going 13-16 with a 3.07 ERA, down from the $15.4 million he made in 2010.

The Dodgers have already spoken to Jeff Francis, Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano in an attempt to fill their fifth spot in the rotation behind Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly and, presumably, Kuroda. Rookie Nathan Eovaldi is another possibility. 

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com