• Kyodo


Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who is reluctant to play for the Orix Buffaloes created by the merger between the Orix BlueWave and Kintetsu Buffaloes, said Tuesday he wants to be dealt to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in a cash deal.

“I don’t have any option in mind but to be dealt to Rakuten for cash,” Iwakuma said. “It will annoy the player involved if it’s a player-for-player deal and I don’t want to see that happen.”

The 23-year-old Iwakuma led the Pacific League with 15 wins with the Kintetsu Buffaloes this past season.

He is one of 25 protected players picked from Kintetsu and Orix despite his wish to be left out of the list for an opportunity to be selected by the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in the distribution draft held on Nov. 8.

Orix has been trying to persuade Iwakuma to play for the Orix Buffaloes but talks have hit a snag.

“I’ll tell Mr. Ogi of my wish to move to Rakuten in a cash deal,” Iwakuma said, revealing that he will meet with Orix manager Akira Ogi.

On Tuesday, Ogi ruled out the possibility of a trade.

In other news, veteran Hanshin Tigers infielder Atsushi Kataoka signed a new contract worth 180 million yen a year following a disappointing injury-plagued season.

The Yokohama BayStars signed outfielder Takanori Suzuki to a new contract for 220 million yen in yearly salary.

Two more for Williams

The Associated Press

Australian closer Jeff Williams on Wednesday signed a two-year $2.4 million deal with the Hanshin Tigers.

Williams, who became the first foreign player to sign a multiyear contract extension, went 2-4 with 14 saves and a 3.28 ERA this season for the Tigers.

In 2003, the hard-throwing 32-year-old left-hander posted 25 saves in helping the Tigers to their first Central League pennant in 18 years. Williams was a key member of Australia’s silver medal-winning team at the Athens Olympics.

In Japanese baseball, foreign players usually are given one-year contracts. Following the 2003 season, American Tuffy Rhodes left the Kintetsu Buffaloes and signed with the Yomiuri Giants after the Buffaloes refused to offer him anything more than a one-year extension.

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