Here's one I didn't quite expect: Hochi Sports is reporting that the Orix Buffaloes and Tuffy Rhodes have failed to come to an agreement on a contract for 2010, and that Orix is breaking off negotiations. This could signal the end of Tuffy's second stint with the Buffaloes.
According to the report, Orix offered Rhodes a salary of 250m yen ($2.5m) for 2010, a big step down from the 350m yen ($3.5m) he was paid in 2009. Orix decided to move on after not hearing back from Rhodes. Tuffy missed almost half of 2009 due to a broken wrist suffered from being hit by a pitch, but still hit .308 with 22 home runs and 62 RBI. Negotiations had apparently been rocky, but given that Orix was talking about making him a player-coach next year I fully expected him to be back. Maybe they'll find a way to get back on track; maybe this is a hardball negotiating tactic on Orix's part.
Having played in NPB since 1996, Tuffy is unquestionably the elder statesman among foreign players in Japan. He's also a rare foreign player feel-good story, having returned to Osaka to put up three excellent seasons after his bust-up with Yomiuri and subsequent year out of baseball. Hopefully Tuffy will continue his career; at first glance Rakuten and Nippon Ham seem like good fits.