• Kyodo

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The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters on Tuesday signed infielder Michihiro Ogasawara to a new one-year contract that is expected to make him the highest-paid Japanese player next year.

Ogasawara, a two-time batting champion in the Pacific League, accepted a 50 million yen pay cut when he signed a deal carrying an estimated annual salary of 380 million yen following a season that saw him hit under .300 for the first time in six years.

Despite the reduction in his salary, the 32-year-old will likely be the highest-paid Japanese player after the retirement of Kazuhiro Sasaki and the switch to the major leagues by Kenji Jojima.

Right-hander Sasaki played for the Yokohama BayStars with a 650 million yen annual salary, while catcher Jojima was paid 500 million yen by the Softbank Hawks this year.

Ogasawara batted .282 with 37 homers and 92 RBIs in 133 games in 2005.

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