The Chiba Lotte Marines have reportedly agreed to trade Naoyuki Shimizu to the Yokohama BayStars for pitcher Takumi Nasuno and catcher Shinji Ninuma.The trade has not yet been officially announced.
Shimizu is entering the second year of a two-year contract, and has an opt-out clause to pursue an MLB this offseason. He recently suggested that he's still interested in testing the overseas market, and dismissed any possibility of leaving Lotte to sign with another NPB club. It will obviously remain to be seen how his contract will play out with a trade - does the out clause remain valid after a trade? And if so, will his preference for Lotte lead him to exercise it after being traded?
In any case, this trade looks like a salary dump for Lotte. I'm not high on Shimizu's MLB credentials (think Kirk Saarloos), but he's a decent NPB innings eater, and Lotte would not be getting equal value back in Nasuno and Ninuma. Lotte's baseball club lost 2.8bn yen ($28m) in 2008, and had a stated goal of getting that number down to 1bn yen ($10m). Getting Shimizu's 280m yen ($2.8m) for 2010 off the books along with Bobby's salary will go quite a ways in reducing expenses, though the team will likely take a hit at the gates.