Righty Ross Ohlendorf is bringing his old-school windup and mid-nineties fastball to Japan, according to multiple reports. Yahoo Japan recently reported the arrangement (in Japanese), with the Japan Times providing the club’s announcement today. Ohlendorf will earn $1.6MM and can add up to $400K via incentives, per Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
It has been a winding path for the veteran hurler, who most recently worked out of the Reds bullpen. Over his 65 2/3 innings in 2016, the 34-year-old compiled a 4.66 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9. He continued to show a strong, 93.8 mph average fastball, and again posted a swinging-strike rate of over 10%, though he also demonstrated an ongoing susceptibility to the long ball (17.1% HR/FB, 1.92 HR/9).
Ohlendorf, a starter with the Pirates earlier in his career, reestablished himself with the Nationals in 2013. But ensuing injuries forced him to work his way back to big-league relevance once again. Ohlendorf made it back to the majors in 2015 with the Rangers, taking the ball 21 times and working to a 3.72 ERA over the course of the year, before joining the Royals for the spring of 2016.
After opting out of his minors pact with Kansas City, Ohlendorf scored a MLB roster spot with the Reds just before the start of the 2016 season. He ultimately earned $800K on that contract, and will now at least double that in his first foray into Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.
It seems that Ohlendorf will also have a new shot at working from the rotation with Yakult. The team’s international scouting director said that it signed Ohlendorf to provide the organization with “a power pitcher in the rotation” to replace Kyle Davies, who will not return to the Swallows after wrapping up a 15-start stint.