The last thing we heard about Jose Contreras was that the SoftBank Hawks had decided to prioritize keeping their own free agents, but could turn to the veteran Cuban if negotiations stalled or (later on) an injury occurred.
It looks like it didn't take long for the former shoe to drop, at least part of the way.
SoftBank's negotiations with Justin Germano have indeed stalled, and it now appears that he won't be back in Fukuoka for 2010. This, of course, fuels speculation that SoftBank could immediately turn to Contreras to back fill for him. In any event, the presence of Contreras certainly gives SoftBank some additional leverage.
Contreras's son Kevin, who is hoping to take part in an exchange program and play baseball at Fukuoka's Yanagawa high school, is behind the prospective move to Japan. The Hawks, who play their home games in Fukuoka, would certainly be the most convenient destination for Jose if exchange program works out.
Contreras has been in Japan with his family since November 25th, and has so far taken his son to visit his prospective high school, met sumo wrestler Kotoshogiku, and thrown for a SoftBank scout. The family plans to take in a few sites before returning home on December 7th.
Update: It's now official that Germano won't return to SoftBank in 2010. A team official said he wants to play in America next season.