Tuffy Rhodes was formally turned loose from the Pacific League club on Tuesday after the Japan pro baseball commissioner’s office released a list of 79 players who were not put on reserve by their respective clubs.
Rhodes, who captured the Japanese home run title for a career third time with 51 homers this past season, failed to reach an agreement for a multiyear contract with Kintetsu and reportedly will begin talks with the Yomiuri Giants for a more lucrative deal.
The 35-year-old former Boston Red Sox outfielder will likely be seeking a deal of two or more years carrying an annual salary in the neighborhood of $5 million — something the Buffaloes were unwilling to give him.
Also on the list of those released from their clubs is lefty Trey Moore, who posted 10 wins to help lead the Hanshin Tigers to their first league championship in 18 years.
The Yokohama BayStars are reportedly interested in acquiring the 31-year-old Texan.
Elsewhere, outfielder Motoi Okoshi was released from the Daiei Hawks, the Seibu Lions dismissed infielder Scott McClain and the Lotte Marines got rid of infielder Jose Fernandez.
In other news, Yomiuri Giants right-hander Hiroshi Kisanuki, who won Rookie of the Year this past season, re-signed with the Central League club for an annual salary of 48 million yen — more than three times his pay last year.
Meanwhile, the BayStars pre-draft pick Teruaki Yoshikawa received a signing bonus of 100 million yen plus performance-related incentives of up to 50 million yen.
The 22-year-old right-hander from Nippon Bunri University, who will receive an annual salary of 15 million yen, said he will aim to make the top team before the 2004 season begins.
Lotte in talks with Lee Seung Yeop
The Lotte Marines are set to start negotiations to bring South Korean free agent slugger Lee Seung Yeop to the Pacific League club, Lotte owner Akio Shigemitsu said Tuesday.
“We are ready to negotiate a deal and will be doing that through the player’s agent,” said Shigemitsu.
Lee, who hit 56 home runs with the Samsung Lions this year to rewrite the Asian single-season mark, had said he was only interested in playing for a major league team.
But he was reportedly not satisfied with any of the offers made last month by several major league teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“He is a great player. Even if he only wants to play in Japan for one or two years, then that’s fine with us,” said Shigemitsu.
Lee is currently in Japan to take part in a television production and will return to South Korea on Wednesday.
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