Posted on: November 15, 2010 8:32 pm

Nishioka to be posted

The Chiba Lotte Mariners have agreed to post 26-year-old Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reveals.

Nishioka slashed .346/.423/.481 as the leadoff man and shortstop. Many feel he is best suited to the second-base position stateside.

The Giants and Dodgers are expected to be the forerunners for his services, especially as he indicated an interest in playing on the West Coast.

The Mariners could be a darkhorse to slot Nishioka at short or even second by moving Chone Figgins back to the hot corner. The Mariners desperately need offense, have a Japanese owner and star (Ichiro Suzuki) and have money to spend.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: November 15, 2010 10:53 am

Japanese teams interested in Kawakami

Kenshin Kawakami The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks are interested in demoted Braves right-hander Kenshin Kawakami, Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times reports (via Twitter , passing on a Japanese article).

Kawakami, due $6.67 million in 2011, cleared waivers and was outright to Double-A Mississippi. Braves general manager Frank Wren has said he'd like to find a team to take a chunk of his salary and noted several Japanese teams have shown interest in Kawakami, 34.

According to MLB.com's Mark Bowman , the Yomiuri Giants and Nippon Ham Fighters have shown interest in Kawakami, but wrote "another unidentified Japanese team provided the Braves reason to believe they would be willing to assumer more of the $6.67 million figure than the other two clubs." That could be the Hawks.

Kawakami pitched for Chunichi of Japan's Central League from 1998-2008, where he won the MVP and the Eijii Sawamura Award (the equivalent of the Cy Young Award) in 2004.

Kawakami has gone 8-22 with a 4.32 ERA in two seasons with the Braves, including 1-10 with a  5.15 ERA last season.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: November 12, 2010 2:04 pm

Giants, Dodgers interested in Nishioka

Tsuyoshi Nishioka The Giants and the Dodgers could be interested in Japanese middle infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, FanHouse's Tom Krasovic tweets .

According to an MLB source, Nishioka's posting fee could top $4 million. That money goes straight to his Japanese team, the Chiba Lotte Marines, and to the top bidder, who then has exclusive bargain rights for the player.

Nishioka played shortstop for the Marines, but may project more as a second baseman here. Nishioka, 26, had 206 hits in 2010 and hit .346/.423/.481 with 11 homers as the Marines' leadoff man.

Nishioka has reportedly said he'd prefer to play on the West Coast, specifically with the Dodgers. He isn't expected to be posted until after the Marines' game against the Korean champions on Saturday at the Tokyo Dome.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: November 11, 2010 10:54 am
Edited on: November 11, 2010 12:27 pm

Dragons pitcher drawing interest

Chunichi Dragons pitcher Maximo Nelson is drawing interest from several big-league teams, including the Yankees, Giants and Tigers, the Nikkan Sports Daily reports (via YakyuBaka.com ).

Nelson, a 28-year old Dominican, was formerly a Yankees prospect, but was caught in a marriage scheme and was permanently banned from receiving a visa in the United States. Since then, it was shortened to five years, meaning he is now again eligible for a work visa.

In 2004, he was third in the Gulf Coast League in wins and eighth in ERA with a 6-3 record and 2.64 ERA and ranked 30th in the Yankees' organization by Baseball America. He's pitched in Japan since 2008.

In February, Nelson was arrested when a bullet was found in his luggage. The Dragons suspended him for three months for the incident.

This year he was 4-3 with a 3.16 ERA, striking out 38 and walking 37 in 68 1/3 innings. He pitched in three games in relief in the Japan Series.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: November 10, 2010 9:32 am
Edited on: November 10, 2010 11:27 am

Japanese stars eye MLB

Hiroyuki Kobayashi, the closer for the Japan Series-champion Chiba Lotte Marines, has decided to exercise his international free-agent option to pursue playing in the United States (or, you know, with the Blue Jays), the Kyodo News reports .

Kobayashi, 32, had 29 saves and a 2.21 ERA this season.

Several teams are looking for closers, and Kobayashi is a right-hander without an overpowering fastball, but throws four pitches. He struck out 53 in 61 innings last season, his first as a closer. In 2009, he went 4-13 with a 4.29 ERA with 120 strikeouts in 134 1/3 innings. He had a 71-66 record as a starter. He was also a member of Japan's 2006 World Baseball Classic team.

Because he is eligible for international free agency, he will not have to go through the posting system.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka UPDATE: Kobayashi's teammate, switch-hitting shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka is also looking toward Major League Baseball. However, Nishioka, 26, will go through the posting system.

"In the end I was able to win a Japan Series title and that was a defining point for me," Nishioka (pictured) told the Kyodo News . "Now I want to pursue my childhood dream."

Nishioka became the second Pacific League player to record 200 hits, with 206 this season. He hit .346/.423/.481 with 11 home runs as the Marines' leadoff man.

Nishioka would prefer to play for the Dodgers, a source tells the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez . However, going through the posting system, Nishioka has zero choice on his team. Nishioka would prefer to play on the West Coast, Hernandez writes.

The Kyodo News report says Nishioka could be posted as early as today.

UPDATE: The Asahi Shimbun (via NPB Tracker on Twitter ) reports the Marines will meet Nishioka about the posting on Saturday.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: November 8, 2010 10:06 am
Edited on: November 8, 2010 11:49 am

Report: Athletics win bid for Iwakuma

Iwakuma Sounds like Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma is headed to the Oakland Athletics.

According to agent Don Nomura,, a well-respected Japanese-American agent who represents Iwakuma and also represented Hideo Nomo, tweeted Sunday that Oakland won the rights to Iwakuma via the posting process.

The A's were thought to be interested in Iwakuma despite an already deep rotation so that they could leverage their arms in trade for a bat, as the anemic offense is the only thing standing between the A's and contention in the AL West. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal dangles the name Casey McGehee from Milwaukee as a possible target for Oakland for one of its young pitchers.

Iwakuma (photo courtesy NPB), 29, posted a 2.82 ERA over 201 innings for Rakuten, which has a working relationship with the A's. As part of the agreement, the two clubs "share information pertaining to player development and data analysis, as well as exchange baseball operations staff including coaches, strength and conditioning specialists and medical personnel," as BizofBaseball.com writes.

Given the close working relationship between Oakland and Rakuten, it's not out of the realm of possibility to consider that Oakland has knowledge on Iwakuma that no other club has that strengthened its confidence in posting a bid.

Despite Oakland winning the bid, negotiation for an actual contract has to begin, so it remains possible no agreement will happen and there is a deadline for 30 days for such an agreement.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: November 5, 2010 8:52 pm

Multiple bids for Iwakuma

Hisashi Iwakuma More than one team posted a bid for Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, NPB Tracker tweets (with a link to a Yomiuri Shimbun article -- but since my two years of high school Japanese and two years of college Japanese escape me, I'll go with what NPB Tracker has to say).

Iwakuma's team, Rakuten, has until Nov. 11 to accept the highest bid. If the team accepts the bid, the team has 30 days to negotiate with Iwakuma.

Iwakuma, 29, is considered to be the second-best pitcher in Japan, behind Yu Darvish. The right-hander went 10-9 for the Golden Eagles with a 2.82 ERA this past season. He had 153 strikeouts in 201 innings.

Iwakuma won the 2008 Sawamura Award, Japan's equivalent of the Cy Young. He started for Japan in the championship game of the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Category: MLB
Posted on: November 4, 2010 10:37 am
Edited on: November 4, 2010 4:46 pm

Darvish expects to play in majors in 2012

Darvish The best pitcher in Japan turned some heads when he announced he was returning to Japan for another season.

However, David Lennon of Newsday reports the reason Yu Darvish is remaining in the country another year is because he is in the midst of a divorce. Once all that is settled, Darvish will jump to the States in time for 2012.

The 24-year-old has a career 2.12 ERA in 1,036 1/3 innings for the Nippon Ham Fighters, punching out 974. He made his professional debut at age 18, starting 14 games with a 3.53 ERA. His ERA has not been higher than 1.88 over the last four seasons, going 12-8 in 25 starts in 2010, completing 10 games for a 1.78 ERA and 222 whiffs in 202 innings.

Darvish throws a 91-94 mph fastball along with a hard slider, and mixes in a two-seam fastball, curveball, split-fingered fastball, cut-fastball and changeup. He previously threw a screwball until getting injured in 2006 and scrapping the pitch, developing the splitter instead.

 He will likely be asked to reduce the amount of pitches he throws so he can throw four quality pitches instead of two quality pitches and five okay pitches. Daisuke Matsuzaka underwent the same transition when he arrived in the majors.

Darvis could easily clear Dice-K's record posting fee of $51.1 million, and as Lennon points out, the timing could be perfect for the Mets to be players as they will have cleared out all of their lucrative contracts except Johan Santana -- and given Santana will have just two years left on his contract, it should not factor into their chase of Darvish.

The Diamondbacks were reportedly willing to offer up to $80 million for Darvish's services, including posting fee and contract. For a market like Arizona, it's an impressive number. The Nationals are also interested in Darvish , but those are the only public teams known at this point. However, expect all 30 teams to be interested in Darvish, with only the price of the posting fee reducing the pool of contenders for the Persian's services.

It is not yet known whether King Leonidas will put in a bid himself.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
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