Junichi Tazawa Rumors
Some Japanese baseball-related rumors, courtesy of Patrick Newman at NPB Tracker:
- Seven teams have surfaced in Japanese media reports as suitors for free agent amateur pitcher Junichi Tazawa: the Red Sox, Braves, Mariners, Pirates, Tigers, Cubs, and Phillies. David O'Brien of the AJC says the Braves are "legit players" for Tazawa. The Red Sox are seen as the frontrunner, according to Paul Hoynes. Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald agrees that Boston is in the lead, and adds the Marlins to the mix.
- Reliever Hitoki Iwase will remain in Japan. Shortstop Tomohiro Nioka is a free agent, but may not necessarily come to MLB.
- So Taguchi and Tadahito Iguchi may return to Japan for the '09 season.
- Saburo Ohmura is a 32 centerfielder with an eye on MLB. Newman tells me he profiles as more of a fourth outfielder.
Links for Saturday...
- Huston Street tries to ignore the chatter, but realizes he might be traded before the season starts.
- Curt Schilling's Red Sox career is probably over, writes MLB.com's Ian Browne.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said the Tigers are open to improving the team in creative ways, but he's not looking to trade away the team's "core players."
- Other than Justin Verlander and Armando Galarraga, there's a whole lot of uncertainty in the Tigers' 2009 rotation, writes Jon Paul Morosi.
- It looks like the Mets won't trade Carlos Delgado. Instead, they'll focus on rebuilding their bullpen and improving in left field and at second base.
- Junichi Tazawa will meet with the Mariners and Braves Tuesday. Now the Phillies are in the mix for his services, too.
According to an AP/ESPN report, the 12 Nippon Professional Baseball teams adhered to Junichi Tazawa's request not to draft him. Tazawa, a 22 year-old righty, has reportedly been scouted by the Red Sox, Mets, Braves, Dodgers, Tigers, Pirates, Cubs, and Mariners.
Links for Wednesday...
- Mark Prior hopes to return to the Padres, according to a blogger who talked to him at a pumpkin patch. That wheelbarrow looks a bit heavy...
- I am still digging through the many applications for the Saturday morning position - thanks for your interest. Tons of great candidates in the mix.
- Viva El Birdos reflects on Mark Mulder's time with the Cardinals. Mulder is trying everything he can to get back to his old self.
- Dave Cameron names Mike Cameron the top free agent bargain of last offseason.
- SI.com's Jon Heyman looks at how the Rays were built.
- Joe Posnanski looks at the divergent paths of the Royals and Rays.
- Sox Machine considers some free agent fits for the White Sox.
- Mets owner Jeff Wilpon spoke about "addition by subtraction" in a recent radio interview.
- I agree with this take on the Mark Ellis signing.
- Patrick Newman believes NPB will eventually soften its stance toward Junichi Tazawa.
- Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald doesn't like the idea of the Red Sox shifting things around to accomodate Mark Teixeira.
- The Mariners apparently have still not decided on their new GM.
ESPN reports today that the 12 Nippon Professional Baseball teams agreed on a conditional ban for amateur players to sign overseas. The agreement was sparked by Junichi Tazawa, the 22 year-old pitcher who hopes to sign with an MLB club. It's a two or three-year ban from playing in Japan, depending on the circumstances.
It doesn't really sound all that discouraging. NPB apparently sent a delegation to the U.S. to discuss the situation with MLB officials. Did anything come of that meeting? Or will MLB just start signing up Japanese amateur players now?
- Chat today, 2pm CST.
- Great stuff on the Pedro Alvarez situation from Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein. Goldstein's source says the union will claim that the Pirates and MLB engaged in a premeditated conspiracy, perhaps designed to take Scott Boras out of the picture by negotiating past midnight. The article is subscription-only. At $40 a year, BP is well worth it.
- It seems that Type B status is slipping away for Tigers reliever Kyle Farnsworth. Ivan Rodriguez recently fell from A to B, but the Yankees may choose not to offer him arbitration.
- Baseball America's Jim Callis says Mariners top draft pick Joshua Fields wants $2MM, while the team is holding firm at $1.5MM. Fields is advised by Scott Boras.
- Interesting note from last week...Bernie Williams is training and does not consider himself retired.
- Patrick Newman discusses the Junichi Tazawa situation in-depth. He says NPB's commissioner plans to meet with Bud Selig. One reason MLB looks extra-appealing to Tazawa: NPB limits draft pick bonuses to $1MM.
- Geoff Baker discusses Jose Guillen.
Japanese amateur pitcher Junichi Tazawa is shaking things up - last week he asked the 12 Nippon Professional Baseball teams not to draft him. He wants to join an MLB team instead. His decision, coupled with interest from multiple MLB teams, is putting a major strain on MLB-NPB relations.
Peter Abraham of The Journal News had an informative article on the Tazawa situation yesterday. He says Tazawa's decision is testing an informal agreement that MLB will not sign Japanese prospects. Abraham says the Red Sox, Mets, Braves, and Dodgers have scouted Tazawa. The Tigers, Pirates, Cubs, and Mariners may also be in the mix. The Red Sox are said to be in the lead. There's no posting free for an unsigned player, though Tazawa may want a big league deal.
The Yankees will pass - GM Brian Cashman told Abraham he will honor the gentleman's agreement between the two leagues. When the Yanks sent Gene Michael to Japan last week, it was apparently to scout Yu Darvish. Darvish's availability this winter will hinge on the whims of the Nippon Ham Fighters. No one knows whether the Fighters will cash the 22 year-old in now for a possible $60-80MM posting fee.
NPB directors convened to discuss the Tazawa situation last week, and they're sending a delegation to the U.S. to meet with MLB. Abraham suggests NPB could strike back if Bud Selig doesn't step in to stop the pursuit of Japanese players before they are drafted. Abraham speculates Japan could pull out of the World Baseball Classic or even sign an American amateur player as retaliation. Or, as Patrick Newman suggested to me recently, a team like Softbank could jump in and sign Pedro Alvarez or Aaron Crow.
Let's take a look at what is being written in the Blogosphere...
- Cardinals Diaspora reads between the lines and feels the Cards will shop their top prospect, Colby Rasmus, this winter.
- The Detroit Tigers Weblog would like to see the Tigers go after Japanese amateur pitcher Junichi Tazawa.
- East Windup Chronicle looks at the Japanese free agent crop.
- River Ave. Blues thinks the Yankees and Manny Ramirez would be a "perfect fit" despite those that say it won't happen.
- Drunk Jays Fans thinks the Mets should inquire with the Jays about the availability of B.J. Ryan.
- Rays Index takes a look at the Rays' '09 roster and sees too many starting pitchers and not enough chairs, which could lead to one or two being traded this off-season.
- McCovey Chronicles projects the Giants' '09 roster and sees all positions spoken for except possibly third base, but still wonders if Brian Sabean will feel the need to sign an impact free agent.
- Lone Star Ball takes a look at the Rangers' '09 40-man roster.
As expected, amateur pitcher Junichi Tazawa has decided to forego Japanese baseball and sign with an MLB team. The Braves, Tigers, Red Sox, Pirates, Mets, and Yankees are thought to be in on him. Patrick Newman has a slew of links and videos on Tazawa here.
I am curious what NPB fans think of this development.
Let's round 'em up...
- Chat today, 2pm CST.
- Andy Pettitte seems to want to play next year, but Peter Abraham believes he may have to take a pay cut.
- Gerry Fraley writes about the Rockies and Mike Hampton. It's safe to rule out a return to Colorado for Hampton, who is currently auditioning for his next team.
- The Royals dismissed their scouting director Deric Ladnier, offering him another position in the organization. Craig Brown reflects on Ladnier's tenure.
- More Royals linkage: Rany Jazayerli defends the Gil Meche signing and implores the team to lock up Zack Greinke this winter. Jazayerli would also like the team to pick up knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, recently designated for assignment by the White Sox.
- Patrick Newman continues to update us on Japanese amateur pitcher Junichi Tazawa, who is coveted by several MLB teams. If Tazawa starts a trend, an interesting debate could follow. Newman also has a running list of Japanese free agents for this winter.
- Bobby Valentine may be clashing with his boss over in Japan.
- Will the Rangers cut Hank Blalock loose, or exercise his $6.2MM option? Blalock's ability to play third base remains a question mark, but he will try to improve his arm strength this winter.
- Neither the Pirates nor Pedro Alvarez's people will be present at today's hearing. ESPN's Buster Olney says Alvarez can't win - he's either villified in Pittsburgh or forced into next year's draft. In the latter case, Alvarez could lose money down the line.