Hanshin Tigers Rumors

Kosuke Fukudome Signs With Hanshin Tigers

Outfielder Kosuke Fukudome signed with the Hanshin Tigers earlier this offseason according to a Sponichi report passed along by Patrick Newman at NPB Tracker. The Octagon client received a three-year deal worth roughly $5.5MM.

Fukudome, 35, hit .171/.294/.195 in 51 plate appearances for the White Sox last year before being released at midseason. He signed a minor league deal with the Yankees and hit .276/.440/.378 in 166 Triple-A plate appearances to close out the season. Fukudome is a .258/.359/.395 career hitter at the big league level with the Cubs, Indians, and ChiSox.

Twins Rumors: McCarthy, Blanton, Dempster, Myers

Here's the latest on the Twins from Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN

  • So far, the Twins have reached out to free agents Brandon McCarthy, Anibal Sanchez, Joe Blanton, Ryan Dempster, and Brett Myers. They're interested in Myers as a starter. They've also reached out to Brandon Webb even though he hasn't thrown a pitch in the big leagues since 2009.
  • The club continues to have regular conversations with Alan Nero, who represents right-hander Scott Baker. The two sides are working on a new contract after Baker's $9.25MM option was declined.
  • The Twins have not shown any interest in Jon Garland and were not present when the right-hander threw for teams during an audition back in September.
  • Talks with reliever Jared Burton about a contract extension are underway. Matt Swartz projects a $2.1MM salary for the right-hander next season, after which he'll become a free agent.
  • The Twins have inquired about reliever Randy Messenger, though the Hanshin Tigers in Japan will not allow the right-hander out of his contract.
  • The team has not contacted Bill Bray after he hit free agency. Special assistant Wayne Krivsky acquired the left-hander during his tenure as Reds GM.

Hanshin Tigers Eyeing Jeff Clement, Mauro Gomez

The Hanshin Tigers are looking at Jeff Clement and Mauro Gomez for next year, according to a Japanese report passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (on Twitter). Both players were recently called up to the MLB level after successful minor league seasons. The Tigers are a Nippon Professional Baseball team based in Japan.

Clement has appeared in 12 games for the Pirates since the end of August after posting a .276/.340/.486 batting line with 16 home runs in 459 plate appearances at Triple-A. The CAA Sports client has a .219/.279/.374 batting line in parts of four MLB seasons.

Gomez, who signed with the Red Sox in February, has appeared in 22 games with Boston this year. The 28-year-old corner infielder has a .299/.342/.448 batting line in 73 MLB plate appearances. He spent most of the 2012 season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he posted a .310/.371/.589 in 426 plate appearances.

Quick Hits: Oswalt, Wilson, Dotel, International Draft

Here's the latest from around the league on a historic day, as Ryan Braun became the first player to successfully appeal a banned substance-related supension…

  • "It’s strictly a money thing," said Lance Berkman to reporters (including Derrick Goold of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and B.J. Rains of FOXSportsMidwest.com) when asked about Roy Oswalt (Twitter links). "The Cardinals [offer] … wasn’t enough to lure him out of Mississippi … I think he feels like that he can get the same money in half a season as he could in a full season and he’s probably right."
  • "He's under control this year and next year, and we're in the monitoring stage for obvious reasons," said Giants GM Brian Sabean to Hank Schulman of The San Francisco Chronicle when asked about the future of Brian Wilson. "We're still in the wait-and-see period." Wilson can become a free agent after 2013.
    Octavio Dotel will become the first player in MLB history to play for 13 teams when he appears in his first game with the Tigers, as Jeff Seidel of the Detroit Free Press writes. Matt Stairs, Mike Morgan and Ron Villone currently share the record with Dotel, who hopes to retire a Tiger.
  • Commissioner Bud Selig spoke about an international draft in this piece by Josh Leventhal of Baseball America. "We'll watch the situation carefully and make the right decision," said Selig. "I can't say [when a draft would be put in place]. We want to see how [the process] works out."
  • ESPN's Keith Law published his first list of the top 50 prospects in this year's draft (Insider req'd). High school outfielder Byron Buxton topped list, following by high school righty Lucas Giolito and Stanford righty Mark Appel.

Odds And Ends: Cubs, Matsui, Mets

More links for the afternoon…

  • Don't forget about today's chat, coming up in less than two hours at 2pm CST…
  • This Chicago Sun-Times article blames Jim Hendry for assembling an expensive group of under-performing hitters, but credits him for putting together some solid pitching.
  • Patrick Newman at NPB Tracker passes on some comments made by a member of the Hanshin Tigers front office about the possibility of acquiring Hideki Matsui after the season, when he's a free agent. It sounds like the Tigers will keep an eye on him.
  • Willie Randolph was fired a year ago today. Since then, the Mets have won 87 of 154 games under Jerry Manuel, who's a better communicator than his predecessor and a popular leader, according to Ben Shpigel of the New York Times.
  • Darren Heitner points out that the first rounders to sign so far haven't obtained the recommended limit for their slots. (Hat Tip: THT)

Mench Completes Deal With Japanese Team

MLBTR reported this was going to happen, and now it has. Kevin Mench will be playing for the Hanshin Tigers in 2009.

The deal is for one year and is worth $1.8MM. Mench, 30, played in the outfield for the Blue Jays last season. He hit .243/.321/.357 in 131 plate appearances for Toronto.

Kosuke Fukudome Update

The Hanshin Tigers offered free agent outfielder Kosuke Fukudome roughly $18.5MM over four years.  They’ve now withdrawn their offer, leaving the Yomiuri Giants as his only Japanese suitor.  I’m assuming that means Fukudome’s former team, the Chunichi Dragons, is also out of the running.  (By the way, the Hanshin Tigers have switched their attention to signing Lew Ford).

Fukudome should make at least $30MM over three years in the United States.  The Rangers, Mets, Cubs, Giants, White Sox, and Padres may all have interest.