• The Associated Press


The Chiba Lotte Marines have agreed to terms with South Korean baseball star Lee Seung Yeop, team officials said Wednesday.

According to Lotte officials, Lee has agreed to a two-year contract worth an estimated $3.7 million.

Lee, who was a free agent, hit 56 homers last season for the Samsung Lions in the Korean League to set a new Asian single-season record.

Lotte general manager Tomoichi Kitakawa met with Lee’s agent on Wednesday to finalize the details of the contract.

Lee, 27, also had talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but reportedly was not impressed with the National League team’s offer.

The contract will allow Lee to pursue a career in the major league’s after two years. The Marines are managed by former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine.

Big raise for Miura

Yokohama BayStars right-hander Daisuke Miura agreed to a new deal worth 220 million yen for next season, officials of the Central League club said Wednesday.

The 29-year-old Miura, who completed the first year of a six-year free agent deal signed last offseason, went 5-5 with a 4.09 ERA in 15 games this past season and received an 80 million yen pay raise ahead of his career 13th year.

“I’m confident about next season and want everyone to see how far we’ll go,” said Miura, who started off the 2003 season in the minor leagues after undergoing surgery on his right elbow last December.

Meanwhile, veteran catcher Takeshi Nakamura re-signed with the BayStars on Tuesday for an unchanged annual salary of 125 million yen.

The 36-year-old Nakamura, who played in just 79 games due to an injury to his right shoulder this past season, enters the final year of his three-year contract next season.

He finished the season with a .268 batting average with 56 hits and 37 RBIs.

Elsewhere, free agent pitcher Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi said he will narrow down his domestic choices to the Hanshin Tigers or the BayStars by next week.

Shimoyanagi, who is also eyeing a move to the major leagues, had planned to narrow down his choices for domestic clubs before the start of the baseball winter meetings in New Orleans on Friday.

The 35-year-old has not drawn any interest from major league clubs.

Dragons ink Kawai

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Former Yomiuri Giants infielder Masahiro Kawai signed a single-year contract on Tuesday with the Chunichi Dragons for one-third the amount of last season, officials of the Central League club said.

Kawai, who played 21 years for the Giants, passed a tryout with the Nagoya-based club and agreed to an estimated 90 million yen in annual salary for next season with additional incentives according to the number of days he is registered on the top team.

“I think this move will be a plus in my baseball career. As far as the salary is concerned, it’s enough for me. I once said I’ll quit and I was ready for a pay cut,” Kawai said.

The 39-year-old announced his retirement on Sept. 21 and was asked to take a coaching job by the Giants but did an about-face the next month, saying he would like to continue his playing career, after then-manager Tatsunori Hara decided to step down from the helm.

As a result, Kawai was released by the Giants while eight top-team coaches of the suffering Tokyo club also said they would left their respective posts citing the sudden resignation of Hara.

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