Japanese standout Kenta Maeda won’t be coming to MLB in 2015 and neither will right-hander Chihiro Kaneko. The Orix Buffaloes ace announced yesterday that he’ll be staying with his club after signing a four-year deal worth ¥2 billion (~$16.6MM) plus performance-based incentives, according to The Japan Times.
Kaneko was named the Pacific League MVP for his stellar season in 2014 and also won the Sawamura Award, roughly the Japanese equivalent of the Cy Young Award. Kaneko, like Maeda, was not eligible for true free agency this season but could have been posted by his club. Kaneko signed on with Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group last month.
Back in October, Kaneko attended the World Series to get a first-hand look at the atmosphere of Major League Baseball. Despite having some interest in making the jump and scouting looks from the Phillies (GM Ruben Amaro personally watched him throw in September), Red Sox, and Padres, he opted to remain with Orix. Still, the major leagues remain in his future plans.
“I would like to do that at some point,” Kaneko said.
While not as highly regarded as Maeda, Kaneko earned an honorable mention on Tim Dierkes’ Top 50 Free Agents list and likely would have been included had he been posted. This past season, Kaneko pitched to a 1.98 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 through 26 starts.