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Uchikawa begins negotiations with Carp

Kyodo

Free agent and former Yokohama BayStar Seiichi Uchikawa had his first sit-down at the negotiation table with the Hiroshima Carp on Thursday.

“I was told that this was historic and I feel this is something great. The manager (Kenjiro Nomura) told me he wants me to change the team for the better,” said Uchikawa.

Sources said Hiroshima has offered the 28-year-old Uchikawa a three-year, ¥600 million deal.

“I’m really not sure yet. I still want to hear from other clubs and I can’t just throw away the 10 years that I’ve had with Yokohama,” he said.

Nomura, who made the trip from the team’s fall training camp in Nichinan, Miyazaki Prefecture, to meet with Uchikawa on the opening of the free agency market, said, “I told him that we really want him to join the team. I got a good feeling from him and we had a good talk.”

The BayStars expressed their desire to bring back Uchikawa to Yokohama, which finished in last place for the third year in a row this season. The Fukuoka Softbank Hawks are also trying to woo him.

Seibu Lions catcher Toru Hosokawa was offered a four-year, incentive-laced contract worth ¥500 million from Softbank.

“We had a pleasant talk. They gave me a high evaluation as a catcher,” Hosokawa said.

Hawks senior official Itaru Kobayashi said talks with Hosokawa went very smoothly.

“He is a great all-around player and is definitely one of the best catchers in Japanese baseball. I think we can expect him to join us,” Kobayashi said.

Yokohama, which is missing a first-string catcher, is also scheduled to meet with Hosokawa on Friday.

“I want to see how much I am needed to play in games as a catcher,” said Hosokawa.

The Hanshin Tigers have made a move for Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles catcher Akihito Fujii with a reported two-year, ¥120 million offer.

A total of 11 players exercised their rights to free agency by Wednesday’s deadline.

Pitchers Hiroyuki Kobayashi of the Chiba Lotte Marines and Yoshinori Tateyama of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters are looking to sign with a team in the major leagues.