Alex Ramirez, the first foreign-born player to reach 2,000 hits in Japanese professional baseball, was one of 123 who have been released by their teams, the commissioner’s office said Monday.
The 39-year-old Ramirez, whom the Yokohama BayStars indicated they would cut ties with on Sept. 27, was not among a protected list of players the Central League club retained negotiating rights to for next year.
This season, Ramirez became the 42nd player to have 2,000 career hits when he homered against his old team, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, on April 6.
He reached the milestone in his 1,695th game. Only the late Hall of Famer Tetsuharu Kawakami, who had his 2,000th hit in his 1,646th game, achieved the feat quicker.
Ramirez, who began his career in Japan with the Swallows in 2001 and also played four years for the Yomiuri Giants from 2008-2011, was limited to two home runs and 14 RBIs while batting just .185 in 56 games this season — the final year of a two-year contract.
The Venezuelan slugger is 20 homers shy of a career 400 in Japan.
Yomiuri Giants left-hander Toshiya Sugiuchi re-signed on Monday with the Central League pennant winners for an unchanged annual salary of ¥500 million.
The 33-year-old Sugiuchi, who signed a four year, ¥2 billion deal with the Giants from the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in 2012, enters the third year of his contract in 2014.
The Giants also said they have reached agreements on contracts for the return of right-handed reliever Scott Mathieson and first baseman Jose Lopez.
Sugiuchi went 11-6, his second consecutive season with double-digit wins, but he struggled to maintain consistency and suffered two defeats in the Japan Series against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.
“There were few times this year that I was able to pitch the way I wanted to. It was a disappointing season,” said Sugiuchi, who will aim to pitch at least 200 innings for the first time in his career next season.
“I have to work on my velocity. It’s back to square one in terms of conditioning my body,” he said.
Mathieson, who made 63 mound appearances and won the league’s MVP for middle relief in his second year with the Giants, will be paid ¥300 million in a two-year deal. Lopez is set to earn ¥170 million after agreeing to a one-year contract.
Right-handers Dennis Houlton and Manny Acosta as well as outfielder John Bowker were released by the club the same day.