The news about Hanshin's list of offseason acquisition targets is flying fast and furious. It kind of reminds me of this old Onion article. Here's what I've seen so far.
Via NPB Free Agency...
- Shugo Fujii (Nippon Ham) - this probably makes the most sense of any of these acquisitions. Fujii wouldn't make the Tigers a championship club on his own though
- Hiroyuki Kobayashi (Lotte) - another rather low risk, medium reward type
- GG Sato (Seibu) - coming off a career year
- Shunsuke Watanabe (Lotte) - can't see Lotte moving him, but would be interesting to see how he adjusts to the Central League
- Nagisa Arakaki (SoftBank) - one of my favorite pitchers, but has been hurt for the last two years
- Brad Thomas (Korea, Hanwha Eagles) - former Nippon Ham Fighter
- Rick Guttoromson (Korea, Kia Tigers) - Sports Hochi reported on him and Thomas
- Kim Tae-Gyun (Korea, Hanwha Eagles) - Matt tipped me off to this info on Kim
- Lee Bum-Ho (Korea, Hanwha Eagles) - Matt also pointed out that if the already last-place Hanwha loses all these guys, they might as well field a him of himself, me and Shinsano
Possible MLB Returnees...
- Hideki Matsui (NY Yankees) – has been speculated over since the summer, seems like Matsui will get chances to stay in MLB
- Masahide Kobayashi (ex Cleveland Indians) - makes sense, I wonder if they went after him during the season
- Kenji Johjima (Seattle Mariners) - reports in the Japanese media say that he has an escape clause in his contract allowing him to return to Japan. Cot's knows nothing about this. Hanshin is said to be prepared to offer 500m yen annually (about $5m), so for this to work Joh would have to take a pay cut, and the Mariners would have to not convince him to stay
- Akinori Iwamura (Tampa Bay Rays) - saw some speculation about this a week or two ago, Iwamura didn't say much other than that he would go where he was evaluated the most highly
There are also reports that Hanshin is going to be looking to the US market as usual, but I haven't seen any legitimate names published yet. Hanshin sent team president Nobuo Minami to the States this season in an effort to learn how to evaluate US-based players. In the process, he had his picture taken with Bobby Cox, and met with the GMs of the Braves, Yankees, Mets, as well as front office personnel from the Red Sox.
What do NPB fans think? Would any of these moves make Hanshin the team to beat next year?