Masahide Kobayashi Rumors

Yomiuri Giants Sign Masahide Kobayashi

The Yomiuri Giants signed reliever Masahide Kobayashi, according to Kyodo News.  The 35-year-old righty was released by the Indians in July.

I was in favor of Kobayashi's two-year, $6.25MM deal in November of 2007.  However, he posted a 5.10 ERA with plenty of hits and home runs over his 65.3 inning MLB career.

Odds & Ends: Hillman, White Sox, Japanese Pitchers

Let's start the evening off by rounding up a few spare links…

  • According to The Associated Press (via ESPN), Royals manager Trey Hillman will return to the team next season. Kansas City GM Dayton Moore, who originally hired Hillman, had his contract extended through 2014 earlier this week.
  • White Sox GM Kenny Williams was asked if the Jim Thome and Jose Contreras trades indicate that he was throwing in the towel according to Scot Gregor of The Daily Herald, and Williams replied "Hell no. We're still in it to win it.”
  • Patrick at NPB Tracker passes along a report saying that the Yokohama BayStars are looking to import Japanese pitchers currently playing in the States. The article mentions that players like Tomo Ohka, Yasuhiko Yabuta, and Masahide Kobayashi could interest the BayStars, while Patrick throws the names of Kei Igawa and Takashi Saito into the ring.
  • ESPN's Jorge Arangure Jr. writes that Miguel Angel Sano is not the only big name Latin American free agent stuck in age investigation limbo. Venezuelan pitcher Daniel Sanchez, considered one of the best pitchers available this year, is stuck in the same boat after the Brewers put in a formal request to MLB to investigate his age. An age investigation is a prerequisite to signing any player from Latin America.

Indians Release Masa Kobayashi

According to Japan's Sponichi, via NPB Tracker, Masahide Kobayashi was granted his release from the Indians on Sunday afternoon.  The 35-year-old right-hander was demoted to Triple-A in mid-May and there were rumors at the time that his release might be imminent.  Here's what Tim said back then:

The Indians signed Kobayashi to a two-year, $6.25MM deal in November of 2007.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, but he posted a 5.10 ERA and 5.4 K/9 in 65.3 innings in his Tribe career.

And here's what Kobayashi shared with the media Sunday:  “Nothing is decided at the moment and I am having my agent look for a team for me (in the United States). In the meantime I will just keep myself ready to pitch.”  It sounds like he's aiming to sign on with another MLB club.  Here's our impressively lengthy Masa Kobayashi archive.

Masahide Kobayashi Sent Down

10:19am: Castrovince says Kobayashi has accepted an assignment to Triple-A Columbus. Reliever Tony Sipp was also optioned to Columbus. The Indians also purchased the contract of reliever Greg Aquino who will join the ballclub today. To make room for Aquino, Scott Lewis was moved from the 15-day to the 60-day DL.

SATURDAY, 8:08pm: According to's Anthony Castrovince, Indians reliever Masahide Kobayashi will be removed from the 40-man roster tomorrow to make room for David Huff.   Castrovince says it's unclear how this will be done – Kobayashi could be optioned to Triple A if he consents.  He wants to stay here rather than go back to Japan.

The Indians signed Kobayashi to a two-year, $6.25MM deal in November of 2007.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, but he posted a 5.10 ERA and 5.4 K/9 in 65.3 innings in his Tribe career.

Indians Sign Luis Vizcaino

THURSDAY: 10:45am: Waiting For Next Year writes that the Indians will have to make another move before next Saturday, when Sowers was scheduled to start. Pitchers David Huff and Zach Jackson are the leading candidates for a call-up. "When this decision is made," writes WFNY, "expect the Masa Kobayashi experience to come to an end."

9:38am: According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Indians announced the signing of Vizcaino to a Major League deal today.  Instead of releasing Masahide Kobayashi, the club demoted Jeremy Sowers.

WEDNESDAY: Waiting with bated breath to see what happens with free agent reliever Luis Vizcaino?  You'll have to wait a little longer.  Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says Vizcaino threw for the Indians a third time yesterday, but the team says they have not signed him.  Vizcaino, however, insists he'll be on the club when they leave for Tampa Bay today ('s Anthony Castrovince agrees).

Odds & Ends: Byrd, Fox, Kobayashi

Links for Monday…

Masahide Kobayashi Signs With Indians

UPDATE: The deal is done – Kobayashi gets $6MM guaranteed over 2008-09 and has a $3.25MM club option for 2010.  This seems like a fine Indians-esque bargain. 

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Indians are close to signing Japanese reliever Masahide Kobayashi.  The 33 year-old is taking his physical today.  The Braves and Mariners were also known to have interest in him.  It’s been said that Kobayashi would prefer to close but it’s not a dealbreaker.

Here’s what Bob Bavasi of JapanBall told me about Kobayashi:

This closer was the number one draft pick by the Chiba Lotte Marines in 1999.  He may be the best available reliever on the free agent market, though he has not made the sort of overtures about wanting to leave Japan as the other two.  During the recent playoffs in Japan, his manager, Bobby Valentine, noted that Kobayashi keeps "looking better every time out.”  True enough, and a reason I like him.

And here’s what Aaron Shinsano and Jackson Broder of East Windup Chronicle said about him:

Lost seven games and ERA rose nearly a point in 2007, but that shouldn’t deter teams from pursuing this 200+ save closer for Chiba Lotte. Throws from the stretch, and has that deceptive delivery that scouts seem to like these days. Has a great forkball that often tails in toward the batter. Not as good as Iwase or Koji Uehara, but might just be an upgrade over, say, The Farns.  Tak adds that he was dropped to the "minors" at the end of the season and many feel his velocity and control are slipping.

OK, Tim here again.  Just wanted to add that Rosenthal also reiterated that the Royals are close on Yasuhiko YabutaMark Gonzales had previously said five teams were still in the running for him.

Odds and Ends: Glavine, Kent, Kuroda

Picking up some rumors and tidbits that haven’t been otherwise posted during this busy day…

Fukudome, Kuroda, Kobayashi Rumors

Here’s a link chock full of rumors involving Japanese ballplayers who might come over to MLB.  It’s also loaded with links most of you will not be able to read.

  • Masahide Kobayashi, the 33 year-old righthanded closer, will be represented by SFX.  Fellow free agents Kerry Wood and Jorge Julio are also using that agency, as far as I can tell.
  • Hiroki Kuroda is expected to fill for free agency on Monday.  Since there’s no posting fee involved, some have speculated his salary could exceed Daisuke Matsuzaka‘s.  Matsuzaka will earn an average of $8.66MM per season during his six-year deal, and he also has a full no-trade clause.  The idea of Kuroda earning around $10MM per year jives with earlier remarks from Jason Churchill of Prospect Insider.
  • The deadline to fill for free agency in Japan is November 12th.  Kosuke Fukudome is still undecided about whether to jump over to MLB.  He’ll meet with his current team, the Chunichi Dragons, on Monday.  They’re expected to make him an offer.  The Hanshin Tigers may also make a play at $20MM over four years, using the money they received from posting Kei Igawa.
  • Some reports indicate that the Yankees may be interested in acquiring Kaz Matsui to play second base if they move Robinson Cano to third.  Doesn’t seem likely.   

Special thanks to Tak Iwanaga for translating.

Odds and Ends: Lincecum, Wakefield, Schilling

More random rumors.  You know you love it.