Catching up on some signings from earlier this week, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball agreed to one-year deals with first baseman Kevin Cron and right-hander Dovydas Neverauskas. According to Sports Hochi (hat tip to Patrick Newman of NPBTracker), Cron will earn $1.1MM in the form of an $800K salary and a $300K bonus, while Neverauskas will earn $625K in salary and a $250K bonus.
Cron and Neverauskas were released by the Diamondbacks and Pirates, respectively, within the last month. It was known at the time that the two players were heading to a team overseas, though specifics weren’t known until the Carp’s announcement.
Since the Diamondbacks have several first base options on the roster, GM Mike Hazen told the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro that “we just felt like if we couldn’t carve out legit opportunity for [Cron,] we should keep in mind there is a window by which he has an opportunity to make money.” The D’Backs received $500K from the Carp in exchange for Cron’s rights.
After hitting 151 homers over 2765 plate appearances in the Diamondbacks’ minor league system, Cron showed some of that power in his 2019 rookie season, swatting six homers in 79 PA at the MLB level. Cron couldn’t build on this start, however, and went hitless in 20 plate appearances in 2020, appearing in only eight games for Arizona.
Cron told Piecoro that the move to Japan is “bittersweet” since he enjoyed his time with the D’Backs, but as he heads into his age-28 season, “I might not get this chance again. It’s a chance to go over there and learn as much as I can and maybe further my game even more and see what happens.”
The only Lithuanian-born player in MLB history, Neverauskas got his big league career off to a solid start in 2017, posting a 3.91 ERA over 25 1/3 relief innings for Pittsburgh. After that debut year, however, the righty simply couldn’t get on track, as Neverauskas struggled to keep the ball in the yard. Over 80 2/3 innings with the Bucs from 2017-20, Neverauskas posted a 6.81 ERA, 2.20 K/BB rate, 8.6 K/9, and a whopping 2.2 HR/9.
Looking for silver linings from that performance, Neverauskas did increase his strikeout totals every year, and he has solid velocity on a fastball that averaged 94.8mph (though his velo has steadily dropped after a 97mph average in 2017). ERA predictors also indicate at least a slightly more favorable perspective on Neverauskas’ results than his 6.81 ERA does, as he has a 5.94 FIP, 4.72 xFIP, and 4.33 SIERA over his Pirates career.