I recently mused how the eye of Blue Jays news we’re currently in will certainly turn back to a storm of activity given how close-ish we are to pitchers and catchers reporting. Well, in Japan, things are going to crank up a lot quicker as everybody (not just the P&C’s) are due to make their way to warmer climes come February 1st.
The lack of any real information on whether Hanshin Tiger free agent shortstop Takashi Toritani decides to test his luck in the majors or stay in the NPB is understandable. Japan shuts down (kind of like my blog occasionally) over the new year period with companies — baseball teams included — only getting back to work yesterday.
With three odd weeks to go before spring training though, Toritani is going to need to start weighing up his offers sharpish. As, according to this report, Hanshin are starting make alternative plans. Looking to potentially move center fielder Yamato Maeda to short and 2014 second basemen Hiroki Uemoto to center. Ironically, leaving them a hole at second.
Alternatively they could just move Uemoto or third basemen Tsuyoshi Nishioka to short and fill where needed.
Either way, if there’s one thing I remember from my time in Japan, it’s that the baseball is far more structured. The Tigers will want to know who is playing where, prior to flying to their spring training facility.
That leaves little time for Takashi. A source in Japan heard that a decision should be forthcoming middle of the month, which is really just a week away.
Unless Takashi has a burning desire to test his skills in North America (which, he does, according to the Unofficial Hanshin Tigers Fansite), the lack of movement may simply be down to nobody — Jays included — being able to meet, or exceed, the 300 million Yen (approximately 2.5 million USD) Hanshin have offered.
According to this, rather depressing, piece from Shi Davidi, Alex Anthopoulos apparently only has $5-$7 million to work with. While the bulk of the article concentrates on how you build a bullpen with nickels, the notes do provide an interesting money shot:
‘The Blue Jays continue to have interest in free-agent infielder Takashi Toritani, but given their limited resources, they’d likely need to get him on a low-risk, one-year deal. Toritani’s agent, Scott Boras, is sure to aim higher.’
And don’t the Jays have a history of not doing business with Scott Boras?
Although, if Toritani truly does want to play overseas, and ‘feels wanted’, the best offer should get him, no matter the frosty relationship between his agent and a certain northern team.
Seems like a lot of ‘ifs’ though.
(But hey, just because I don’t think he’s coming, doesn’t mean we can’t be optimistic and learn the official Toritani cheer. You know, just in case)