Shinobu Fukuhara Rumors

Far East Notes: Darvish, Aoki, Nippert

Here's the latest on Japanese players who could be coming to North America and a North American who's staying in South Korea…

  • There is "a bit of concern" among executives that Yu Darvish won't decide to be posted this winter, tweets SI's Jon Heyman.  It has been widely assumed that Darvish would be posted and immediately become one of the most sought-after pitchers on the market, despite the fact that it will cost a team at least $100MM to both win the posting bid and then sign Darvish to a contract.
  • The transition to four days' rest from six days' rest between starts will be the biggest transition for Darvish if he comes to the Major Leagues, writes ESPN's Jason Coskrey.  Coskrey also provides brief scouting reports of Wei-Yin Chen, Hisashi Iwakuma and Tsuyoshi Wada, three pitchers likely to make the jump from NPB to MLB this winter.
  • Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via Twitter) suggests the Indians aren’t likely to pursue Norichika Aoki, the three-time Central League batting champion who will be posted this offseason. As Hoynes reported yesterday, however, the Indians are interested in Japanese right-hander Shinobu Fukuhara.
  • Dustin Nippert has signed a new two-year deal with the Doosan Bears of the Korean Baseball Organization, reports Dan of (Twitter link).  Nippert originally signed with Doosan in March.  The 30-year-old right-hander pitched three seasons each with the Diamondbacks and Rangers from 2005-2010 before being non-tendered by Texas last offseason.

MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith also contributed to this post

Indians Interested In Shinobu Fukuhara

The Indians are interested in Japanese right-hander Shinobu Fukuhara, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (on Twitter). The 34-year-old is a free agent and can sign with any team.

Fukuhara posted a 2.59 ERA with 11.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 48 2/3 innings for the Hanshin Tigers in 2011.  According to NPB Tracker, Fukuhara's fastball tops out around 92 mph and he also throws a slider and curve. From 2007-10, he posted a 5.24 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 as a starter and reliever in Japan.