• The Associated Press

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Former Kintetsu Buffaloes slugger Tuffy Rhodes has agreed to sign with the Yomiuri Giants, officials of the Central League team said Thursday.

News photoTuffy Rhodes

The 35-year-old American has agreed to a two-year deal worth $5 million.

Yomiuri officials said Rhodes has yet to undergo a physical and they expect him to formally sign the contract sometime around Christmas.

Rhodes had sought a multiyear deal with Kintetsu but the Buffaloes said it was against team policy to offer a foreign player a multiyear contract.

Rhodes, who spent eight seasons with the Buffaloes, tied Japan’s single-season home run record of 55 in 2001 and has won the league home run title three times and RBI title twice.

He led the Pacific League this season with 51 homers.

With 288 homers, Rhodes, who previously played for the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros, has the most home runs of any foreign player in the history of Japanese baseball.

Buffs get replacement

OSAKA (Kyodo) The Kintetsu Buffaloes have reached a basic agreement with left-handed infielder Larry Barnes on a contract for next season, baseball officials said Thursday.

The Buffaloes had been eyeing the 29-year-old Barnes, who has playing experience with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Anaheim Angels, in the hopes of having him fill the void left by three-time Pacific League home-run king Tuffy Rhodes, who decided to leave the team after eight seasons.

New deal for Sato

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) Yokohama BayStars right-hander Takashi Saito on Thursday signed a new contract carrying a 240 million yen annual salary in his second year of a three-year deal and will be able to make an additional 50 million yen in performance-based incentives.

Saito, 33, received a 60 million yen boost despite only playing in 17 games this past season because of pain in his right shoulder.

Record for Abe

Michihiro Ogasawara set a club record in annual salary in re-signing with the Nippon Ham Fighters, agreeing to a 100 million yen pay raise and a new contract of 400 million yen for next season Thursday.

Ogasawara, who became the Pacific League batting champion for the second straight year this year with a .360 average, eclipsed the former club record of 300 million yen which was owned by him and Chunichi Dragons manager Hiromitsu Ochiai.

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