9:38AM: It’s a two-year contract for Neal, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter). Neal will earn $4MM in guaranteed money, with more available via incentives.
7:29AM: Former MLB righty Zach Neal will return for another season with Japan’s Seibu Lions. The club announced the signing, with the Graveyard Baseball blog passing along the news via Twitter. Financial terms are not available.
Neal, 30, struggled to gain traction in the majors but looked right at home in Japan’s highest league, Nippon Professional Baseball. The former Athletics and Dodgers hurler had to earn his way onto the Lions’ roster through a stint with their top affiliate, but shined once he did.
Over 100 1/3 innings pitched in 17 starts, Neal pitched to a 2.87 ERA. He recorded only 51 strikeouts, though that’s a typical K rate for the command artist. Neal put only 15 baserunners aboard via the free pass, surrendered a manageable eight long balls, and evidently had success at limiting loud contact.
While Neal will stay abroad, at least for the time being, some other players could well be eyeing returns to the affiliated ranks. We recently broke down the 2019 season for numerous former major leaguers (and others of note) playing in Asia’s top leagues. That included Neal and his fellow NPB pitchers and hitters, as well as the pitchers and hitters playing in Korea’s KBO.
Wonder which teams will be in on Shogo Akiyama.