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Chiba Lotte's Free Agents

by Patrick Newman (Oct 21, 2008)

Alright, looks like I'll have time to squeeze in a blog entry this morning. This is about the third time that I've thought my hiatus would come to an end, only to have something pull my attention away. This time I'm determined to make it stick.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be looking at offseason plans for players and teams, as well as working on some essay-type stuff. There's also the playoffs and Japan Series, so there's plenty to write about.

Let's start with The Chiba Lotte Marines, who today announed that Bobby Valentine's contract has been renewed, and have a number of guys who qualify for free agency.

Naoyuki Shimizu, SP: Shimizu was set to be a hot commodity among NPB teams this winter, drawing rumored interested from Hanshin, Rakuten, Yakult, Yokohama and the Giants, but has recently revealed that he intends to pass on free agency this year with an eye toward the majors later on.

Shingo Ono, SP: After a little indecision, Ono appears to be leaning towards free agency. "I feel like would like to remain with Lotte, but they're developing good young pitchers and I have to think about moving. I have confidence that I can play for another team." Yokohama is rumored to be interested in his services.

Tasuku Hashimoto, C: Hashimoto feels like he can start, but is stuck behind all-star Tomoya Satozaki, so I think he'll be likely to try his fortunes somewhere else. A number of teams are rumored to be interested after his strong 2008 season (.311, 11hr off the bench), but Hanshin is expected to make the biggest play to sign him. Current Tigers catcher Akihiro Yano won't last forever, and there's no internal heir apparent.

Saburo, OF: Saburo's two-year contract is coming to an end, and he's considering his options, which include moving to MLB. Saburo is quoted as saying, "I've compared myself to the major league rightfielders that I see on TV, and if I'm going to go now is my only chance." Saburo is coming off a solid offensive season (.289/.359/.416) and has won Gold Gloves in 2005 and 2007, but he still profiles as a 4th outfielder on most teams.

Julio Zuleta, DH/1B: Zuleta has been plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness in his two years with the Marines. Expect him to be replaced this off-season.

I'll add these guys to my free agent list tonight. 

Coming up next: a look at some other free agents and the playoffs thus far.


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