On Friday, the word from Ken Rosenthal was that the Royals were close to signing Japanese reliever Yasuhiko Yabuta to a two-year deal with an option. However, the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales names five teams currently in the running for his services.
We already knew about the Royals and White Sox. Gonzales adds the Indians, Rays, and Pirates to the mix as well. Looks like Japanese relievers are no longer free agency’s best kept secret. Odd that teams didn’t start figuring this out until Hideki Okajima came along. There were plenty of successes before him. It almost seems like you can throw the stats out for Japanese relievers – MLB hitters just aren’t used to these guys yet.