Both Dan Serafini and Matt Franco will play in Japan next season, but they may not return to the Japan Series champion Chiba Lotte Marines, agent Myles Kahn said.
Kahn, who represents both players, said that Franco and Serafini wanted to check their market value as third-year foreign players in Japan. And, particularly in Serafini’s case, the market appears quite strong.
Serafini, a 32-year-old left-handed pitcher who has spent both of his seasons in Japan with Lotte, made $850,000 last season, according to Kahn.
After finishing 11-4 with 117 strikeouts and a 2.91 ERA, Serafini was strong in the postseason for Lotte, picking up the win in Game 4 of the Marines’ Japan Series sweep of the Hanshin Tigers.
Teams have taken notice, Kahn said, as the Orix Buffaloes have offered a two-year contract that Serafini is “considering.”
Three other teams are expected to offer multiyear deals within the next two days: the Yomiuri Giants, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.
“We have met with those four clubs, and we discussed general terms,” Kahn said. “We made it clear that what we are looking for is not a one-year contract.”
Serafini has not ruled out a return to the Marines either, but at this point, his chief concern is getting longer than a one-year contract.
“Chiba is certainly in the mix,” Kahn said. “They have expressed their interests publicly and privately. We’re not saying they won’t be back, but the problems is economics and getting market value.”
Franco also has hope of suiting up for Lotte again, but nearing the end of his career, Franco is more concerned with stability.
“He wants peace of mind,” Kahn said. “Mattie has said to me that the ideal scenario would be to play two or three more years and then finish his career in Japan.”
Franco hit .300 with 78 RBIs and 21 home runs in 2005, his second season in Japan.
“The interest for Franco maybe isn’t as widespread, but there are a few teams looking for bats, especially a left-handed bat,” Kahn said.
Kahn said that two teams other than the Marines had contacted him about Franco, but he declined to reveal them.
Negotiations with Lotte began before any other team entered the picture on either player, and Kahn had been in contact with the Marines as recently as Sunday about different aspects of the free agency process.
Kahn said the two sides initially “had a difference of approach between the starting off point and market value.”
The Marines had the option to retain Franco and Serafini on the reserve list but allowed the players to become free agents. Kahn said it was a promise Marines manager Bobby Valentine made to Franco and Serafini.
“Their prior agent did not put the proper language in the contract that would have prevented them from being on the reserve list at the end of the season,” Kahn said. “Bobby Valentine lived up to his word, which was that these players would become free agents.”
Lotte’s Val Pascucci also is a free agent. Pascucci will play for Italy in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in March.
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