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Yabuta close to deal with Royals

Kyodo News

Free-agent reliever Yasuhiko Yabuta is close to signing a two-year deal with a player option for a third season with the Kansas City Royals, the FOX Sports Web site reported Friday. If the deal is finalized, Yabuta will join the team of newly appointed manager Trey Hillman, who spent his last five years at the helm of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan. The 34-year-old Yabuta, a right-handed setup man, has spent 12 years with the Lotte Marines. In 2007, he went 4-6 with four saves and a 2.73 ERA in 58 games.