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Mashup: Japanese Edition 2.0, Rasner, Iwakuma, Takahashi

November 7, 2010

It’s time once again to take a look at some of the things going on in baseball abroad (and here, but with a bit of a foreign influence). So, without further ado:

  • Former New York Yankee pitcher Darrell Rasner recently agreed to a new contract with the Rakuten Golden Eagles that will keep the righty in Japan for at least one more season. According to NPB Tracker’s Patrick Newman it is a one year deal with an option for 2012. Rasner originally joined Rakuten after the 2008 season when the team purchased his rights from New York for $1 Million. His first season in Japan was a bit on the rough side but he bounced back with 152.2 fairly respectable innings in 2010. With the pending loss of their ace, Hisashi Iwakuma, Rakuten will likely be putting a lot on Rasner’s shoulders.
  • Speaking of Iwakuma, let’s take a look at the latest regarding his situation. We know that Rakuten has posted the right-handed pitcher and that the bidding period has come to a close. Newman has reported that there are rumors in Japan that the high bid was a $13 Million bid from Seattle. Meanwhile Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has reported that Oakland and Texas have also made bids. We should know within a few days if Rakuten accepts the highest bidder and then that team will have 30 days to negotiate a contract with Iwakuma, who is widely considered one of the top starting pitchers in Japan, second only to Yu Darvish. More on what type of pitcher Iwakuma is can be found here, thanks to Newman’s work at Fangraphs.
  • If they win the bidding and can get a contract signed, Seattle is hoping Iwakuma will give them a viable #2 starter behind Felix Hernandez. The Mariners, who are owned by a Japanese group, have long been involved in bringing players over from Japan. Most notably, of course, is Ichiro Suzuki. They’ve also employed Kazuhiro Sasaki, Kenji Johjima, and others. Texas is likely looking at Iwakuma in case they are unable to resign Cliff Lee. They too have some history with acquiring pitchers out of Japan, such as Colby Lewis prior to this past season. Oakland reportedly may want to bring Iwakuma aboard to anchor their staff. The acquisition would also give them enough depth in the rotation to be able to trade one of the existing starters for a bat they desperately need.
  • Chiba Lotte won this year’s Japan Series after completing an 8-7 victory against Chunichi. The Marines won their first title since 2005 when Bobby Valentine was their manager.
  • The Mets and lefty Hisanori Takahashi were unable to come to an agreement on a new contract so he will be a free agent. After spending last year with the Mets after 10 seasons in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants, Takahashi had a clause in his contract that dictated he needed to be released if the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement on a new deal by the end of the World Series. Takahashi went 10-6, with a 3.61 ERA, and 8 saves in 122 innings pitched. He made 53 appearances, including 12 starts.
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