The Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball announced this week that they’ve signed right-hander Javy Guerra for the 2024 season (Japanese language link via Yahoo Japan). Hanshin has also re-signed infielder Sheldon Neuse and right-hander Jeremy Beasley, per the team’s web site. It’ll be the second season with the Tigers for both former big leaguers and Guerra’s first overseas.
Guerra, 28, once ranked as one of the top prospects in all of baseball while rising through the Red Sox and Padres systems as a shortstop. After struggling at the plate as he climbed the minor league ladder, however, he moved to the mound and has now appeared in each of the past five big league seasons, splitting time between the Padres, Rays and Brewers. Guerra is one of the game’s hardest throwers, averaging 98 mph on his heater and at times climbing into triple digits, but he’s battled significant command issues that have hampered his results.
In 63 MLB innings, Guerra has walked 14.3% of his opponents. He hasn’t balanced that out with the type of gaudy strikeout rate one might imagine either, setting down just 15% of his opponents on strikes. The poor command of his power repertoire has contributed to an ugly 6.43 ERA in the big leagues, but Guerra sports a career 2.87 ERA, 28% strikeout rate and far more palatable 9.6% walk rate in 78 1/3 Triple-A innings across two seasons. He’ll look to match that form more closely with the Tigers. And, at 28 years of age, if Guerra can harness his power arsenal in NPB and improve his command, he’s young enough to parlay this stint into a big league return down the road.
As for Neuse, he’ll be a familiar name for fans of the A’s, Dodgers and perhaps the Nationals (who selected him in the second round of the 2016 draft and traded him to Oakland alongside Jesus Luzardo for both Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle). The now-28-year-old infielder hit .212/.262/.296 in parts of three seasons between Oakland and Los Angeles (420 plate appearances) and turned in a .240/.295/.328 batting line with Hanshin last season.
As for Beasley, the 28-year-old pitched 24 2/3 innings of 5.84 ERA ball between the D-backs and Blue Jays from 2020-22. He tossed 41 innings for the Tigers’ top-level club in 2023 (plus 44 innings with their minor league squad) and handled himself quite nicely, logging a 2.20 ERA with a 25.3% strikeout rate and 7.6% walk rate in that time.