Yomiuri Giants right-hander Koji Uehara re-signed with the Central League club on Thursday for an annual salary of 300 million yen.
The 28-year-old received a 90 million yen pay raise and made history by becoming the first Japanese player to employ an agent to conduct talks with the Tokyo-based club when he was accompanied to the negotiating table by lawyer Kimihito Kato.
Uehara hired Kato as his agent at the end of October as he dreaded the idea of holding talks with the Yomiuri brass alone. Even so, Yomiuri technically did not recognize Kato as Uehara’s agent, saying the lawyer had failed to submit the proper paperwork.
“I’m satisfied because I’ve gotten everything I hoped for,” Uehara said. “I didn’t want to talk money with them, so I’m glad (I hired an agent). I’m satisfied with the results of the talks, so I plan to continue with the Giants.”
Kato held talks with Giants general manager Hideaki Miyama several times before an agreement was reached, though Yomiuri owner Tsuneo Watanabe has been opposed to the agent system since it was established during the 2000 offseason.
“We never received paperwork containing the lawyer’s registered number with the bar association. There was a defect in the procedure for using an agent, so these negotiations were actually not conducted with the use of an agent,” Miyama said.
Toru Matsubara, executive director of the players’ association, said the Giants’ failure to recognize Kato as Uehara’s agent was ridiculous and the club was quibbling over semantics.
“It’s really pathetic that they don’t recognize this as a ‘negotiation conducted with an agent,’ ” Matsubara said. “Even if they don’t recognize the word ‘agent,’ it’s a fact that a third party accompanied Uehara to the talks . . . It’s really a twisted stance to take.”
Uehara posted a 16-5 record this past season and won the title for most strikeouts for a career second time.
Marines eye Lee
CHIBA (Kyodo) The Chiba Lotte Marines are showing interest in acquiring South Korean slugger Lee Seung Yeop, who hit 56 home runs to break the Asian single-season mark this year.
Lotte acting owner Akio Shigemitsu said he would soon discuss the matter with manager Bobby Valentine and work on luring Lee to the Pacific League club.
“He’s a good player. After I’ve talked with Valentine, I’d like to make some inquires in South Korea,” said Shigemitsu.
Lee, a first baseman who recently declared free agency from the Samsung Lions, became South Korea’s national hero after breaking Sadaharu Oh’s 1964 mark this season and has drawn the interest of several major league clubs, including the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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