Career high of ’11 wins’ ahead of free agency, 6 teams competing for 31-year-old left-handed pitcher

November 23, 2023 0 Comments

Left-hander Sachiya Yamasaki, who played for the Orix Buffaloes for nine years, is the hottest free agent pitcher this offseason. Six teams have entered the recruitment race, including Orix, the original team that is persuading them to stay. 안전놀이터

He reportedly declared a free agent (FA) and met with officials from six clubs, including the Nippon Ham Fighters, Softbank Hawks, Yakult Swallows, Yokohama BayStars and Yomiuri Giants, to hear about the conditions of recruitment. Some Japanese media reported that Nippon Ham and Yokohama offered a total of 800 million yen over four years.

Yamasaki, who attended the Orix players’ meeting on the 22nd, said, “Each club presented good conditions. I have not decided yet. I will look back calmly and consider it. If it is too late, it will cause trouble, so I will make a decision as soon as possible.”

He said he would give priority to teams where he can regularly pitch as a starting pitcher according to the rotation.

When this year’s season started, it was a battle to recruit players that even the players themselves had never thought about.

Yamasaki, who graduated from Meiji University, wore the Oris uniform as the first pick in the 2015 draft. He had high expectations as a prospect who received the No. 1 pick. He started as a starter in his first year as a professional. However, he did not settle down smoothly as a key starter. He went back and forth between starting and relief.

Until last year, he started 84 of 153 games over the eight years. His eight wins (11 losses) in 2021, in which he started 21 of 22 games, was his most individual wins until last season. That year, he pitched 116⅓ innings and posted an ERA of 3.56.

Of course, he never once completed the required number of innings (143 innings).

Orix’s ‘super ace’ Yoshinobu Yamamoto and left-handed ace Hiroya Miyagi have led the starting lineup with a ‘one-two punch’. The two are members of the Japan national team that won the WBC (World Baseball Classic) held last March.

But that doesn’t mean he couldn’t show his presence. Last year, he only had 5 wins (8 losses) in the regular season, but he pitched well in the Japan Series against the Yakult Swallows. He started as the 6th starter and moved down to the 2nd team, but he started in games 2 and 6 of the Japan Series and pitched 9 scoreless innings. He contributed to winning the Japan Series for the first time in 26 years.

Yamamoto, the starter in Game 1, suffered a minor injury and had the opportunity to play in Game 6. In the second game, he even scored the first RBI. He was selected as the Japan Series Outstanding Player. Annual salary increased from 50 million yen to 60 million yen.

In 2023, his 9th year as a professional, Yamasaki recorded a ‘career high’ and qualified as a free agent. He started all 23 games and posted a record of 11 wins, 5 losses, and a 3.25 earned run average. Although he fell short of the required number of innings by pitching 130⅓ innings, he was tied for second place in most wins in the Pacific League. He is next to ‘top’ Yamamoto, who has 16 wins.

He raised his value by posting the best performance ahead of free agency.

Annual salary this season is 60 million yen. FA transfer is possible without compensation players. Yamasaki, who has excellent hitting ability, has even appeared as a pinch hitter. He went 2-for-5 as a hitter this season. His career batting average is .273 and 5 hits in 22 at-bats.

Japanese media predicted that Yamasaki would decide on his future after participating in Orix’s Pacific League championship parade on the 23rd and the fan meeting on the 26th.

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