1:37pm: Rosario is set to sign with the Hanshin Tigers, Crasnick now tweets, confirming several reports out of Japan.
10:39am: Former big league catcher Wilin Rosario, who has starred in the Korea Baseball Organization for the past two seasons and drew some interest from MLB clubs in free agency this offseason, is nearing a deal with a yet-unidentified team in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter).
The near deal with an NPB club seems to close the book on a potential MLB return for Rosario at present. It’s not clear which teams were interested in him, or to what extent he was pursued, but it’s not uncommon for former big leaguers to land lucrative deals in Japan.
Rosario’s glovework as a catcher was widely panned during his MLB tenure, leading to increased time at first base in near the end of his run in the Majors. He’s played first base in Korea as well and had plenty of success at the plate there, batting a combined .330/.390/.625 with 70 home runs in 1042 plate appearances with the Hanwha Eagles from 2016-17. Rosario batted .282/.314/.507 with 49 homers with the Rockies from 2012-13 but saw that production dip to a more pedestrian .268/.301/.427 in 2014-15 — his final two seasons playing with the Rox.