OSAKA — The Kintetsu Buffaloes signed slugging infielder Norihiro Nakamura to a four-year deal Monday after working out the details of the free-agent contract they agreed to earlier this month. Kintetsu officials hinted the agreement will see Nakamura earn an estimated annual salary of 500 million yen in 2003 and 2004 and “more than 500 million yen” in the remaining two years with hefty incentives. Kintetsu initially offered Nakamura a six-year contract but accepted his wish to limit the deal to four years and become eligible for free agency for a second time after the 2006 season.
And in other baseball news:
Shigeo Nagashima, who was named national baseball team manager last month, on Monday signed a contract that officially put him in charge of guiding Japan to next year’s Olympics in Athens. The former Yomiuri Giants manager took over from Toshihiko Goto on a three-year deal running through the end of 2005. He is currently in the process of selecting his coaching staff in the run-up to the Olympics and is expected to announce the full list by March.
Free-agent pitcher Takashi Saito re-signed with the Yokohama BayStars on Tuesday after agreeing to a three-year, 730 million yen deal with an additional 140 million yen in incentives. Saito, who also had negotiations with the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers, was the Central League club’s closer for the past two seasons but is set to return to the rotation this year. “I rested my desire to play in the major leagues deep in my heart. I’ll start over at Yokohama and aim for the Japan Series championship,” Saito said.
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