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Patrick Newman

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Nakamura, Nioka Traded

by Patrick Newman (Nov 11, 2008)

As had been rumored, the Nippon Ham Fighters have agreed to send star closer Micheal Nakamura to the Yomiuri Giants for infielder Tomohiro Nioka in a four player trade. The Fighters also acquired reliever Masanori Hayashi and threw outfielder Takahito Kudoh into the deal.

At first glance, I like this deal a lot better for the Giants. They got an All-Star level closer in exchange for Nioka, who was clearly on his way out after his scandalous affair with newscaster Mona Yamamoto earlier in the season. The Giants reached game 7 of the Japan Series without a significant contribution from Nioka, and he was looking like a spare part for next season, scandal or no scandal.

The move improves an already strong Kyojin bullpen. The Giants have already announced their intent to excercise closer Marc Kroon's option, so Nakamura will most likely move into a setup role.

The Fighters are hoping to add some much-needed offense in Nioka, and retain some bullpen depth with Hayashi, but both guys are coming of injuries and Nippon Ham is taking a chance that they'll be able to return to form. I'm surprised they couldn't get more for Nakamura.

In a minor, unrelated move, the Giants sent slick-fielding utility infielder Makoto Kosaka to Rakuten to for cash.


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