Shortstop Takashi Toritani has chosen to remain with the Hanshin Tigers, according to a report from Sponichi (Japanese link, hat tip to NPBTracker’s Patrick Newman). The Tigers have since announced the decision (Japanese link), and Toritani, a client of the Boras Corporation, has issued a personal statement as well (translation via Yakyubaka.com):
“I earned my international FA option and exercised it. I spent a lot of time thinking about my options and would now like to let everyone know that I decided to stay. I apologize to the fans, organization, and players for the worry I may have caused by taking so long to come to this decision. I would like to ask the fans to put their concerns aside in exchange for a season in which I will work hard to help share the happiness that comes from winning a league pennant and Nippon Series.”
Toritani, 33, was reportedly not completely set on coming to North America, though he hired Boras to explore the MLB market to see if an everyday job and an acceptable contract could be found. The Padres, Blue Jays and Mets were known to have interest in Toritani as either a shortstop or as a second baseman, though none of that trio made him an offer. While he came with a strong defensive reputation, some scouts expressed concern as to whether or not Toritani would hit enough at the Major League level to merit an everyday role.
By staying in Japan, Toritani will get the opportunity to extend his streak of 1444 consecutive games played, which is already a Nippon Professional Baseball record (even more impressively, he’s played in every inning of those 1444 games). Toritani has spent his entire pro career with Hanshin, hitting .285/.372/.412 over 6531 plate appearances.