Left-hander Yudai Ohno announced this week that he plans to stay with NPB’s Chunichi Dragons, and MLB.com’s Jon Morosi now adds that the star southpaw inked a three-year pact with the Dragons. Ohno has drawn some MLB interest, but it seems the 32-year-old will stay in Japan for the long term. Given that he’ll be 35 by the time this contract draws to a close, it’s fair to wonder whether he’ll ever pursue an MLB opportunity. The lefty was masterful in 2020, completing 10 of his 20 starts en route to a 1.82 ERA and a 148-to-23 K/BB ratio in 148 2/3 frames. Sports Info Solutions’ Will Hoefer profiled Ohno (among others) following the 2019 season, noting a three-pitch mix — fastball, slider, splitter — with velocity that runs up to 94 mph.
A few more notes from NPB…
- Former A’s righty Raul Alcantara was named the Choi Dong-won Award winner in the Korea Baseball Organization this week, writes Jee-ho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency. Alcantara follows Josh Lindblom, who won the award in both 2018 and 2019, as the third straight former big leaguer to win the KBO’s Cy Young equivalent. The 27-year-old right-hander logged a pristine 2.54 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and just 1.4 BB/9 across 31 starts, totaling 198 2/3 innings of work on the whole. The 2020 campaign was Alcantara’s second in the KBO and first with the Doosan Bears, the team for which Lindblom previously starred. It’s not clear at this point whether Alcantara will explore a return to the Majors or look to further build his stock overseas. This year was a breakout for Alcantara, who pitched to a 4.01 ERA with the KT Wiz in 2019. He played this season on a one-year, $700K deal and should command a healthy raise from the Bears or another club if he wishes to return for a third season in the KBO.
- Former Mariners outfielder Stefen Romero has drawn some interest from Major League clubs, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports (via Twitter). The 32-year-old last appeared in the Majors with Seattle but has spent the past four seasons in Japan: 2017-19 with the Orix Buffaloes and 2020 with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. The right-handed-hitting Romero has put together a .272/.354/.539 slash with 24 homers, 19 doubles and a pair of triples in 2020 and owns an overall .269/.337/.505 slash in four NPB seasons. Those numbers include a down year in ’18, but Romero has produced at a high level over the past two years. It’s not clear whether a 32-year-old corner-only outfielder can parlay that showing into a big league deal, but it’s at least worth remembering that he’s an option for clubs seeking low-cost outfield help. Romero could probably get another solid contract in Japan, of course, so it’s far from a given that he’ll return to North American ball.
- Justin Bour isn’t expected to return to the Hanshin Tigers for a second season, per the Japan Times. The 32-year-old former Marlins/Phillies/Angels first baseman signed a one-year deal worth about $2.55MM with the Tigers last offseason but didn’t quite meet the club’s expectations, slashing .243/.338/.422 with 17 homers and eight doubles in 379 trips to the plate. The six-year big league veteran carries a career .262/.345/.490 slash against right-handed pitching in the Majors, so he could reemerge as a depth option for a club at first base or designated hitter this winter.