Japanese shortstop Takashi Toritani has hired Scott Boras as his agent, and Boras will spend the next month or so gauging Major League interest in his new 33-year-old client, writes MLB.com’s Phil Rogers. Toritani is not yet committed to jumping from Nippon Professional Baseball to MLB, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported earlier this month that he was expected to make the move.
Toritani, who has spent his entire career with the Hanshin Tigers, is a lifetime .285/.372/.412 hitter that comes with a solid defensive reputation. He’s been incredibly durable, with Boras referring to his client as the “kind of the Cal Ripken of Japan.” While Toritani’s offense isn’t likely to be on par with that of the Baltimore iron man, Boras points out that Toritani has not missed a single game in the past 10 seasons — a highly impressive feat. Even more impressive, however, is that Toritani has not missed so much as an inning at shortstop in that stretch — an incredible span of 1,444 games. (Not surprisingly, Toritani is the NPB record holder for consecutive games played.)
According to Boras, Toritani would be eligible to sign with a Major League club after November 30, but he doesn’t have much interest in coming to the Majors as a part-time player. Toritani is looking for a chance to be a regular player. Given the thin market for middle infielders and the possibility that Toritani could likely slide over to second base if needed, it’s certainly possible that a big league team would look at him as a potential everyday option. Hanley Ramirez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew are the biggest names up the middle, though Ramirez may sign as a third baseman. On the international front, Cuban defectors Jose Fernandez and Hector Olivera may be able to step directly into a big league lineup at second base, but it’s not clear when either will be cleared for free agency by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control and MLB.
Those who watched the 2013 World Baseball Classic may recall Toritani, who played for Japan in that tournament, going 4-for-15 with a single, double, triple and a home run (video link).