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Chunichi Dragons closer Hitoki Iwase agreed Wednesday to a four-year deal carrying a salary of ¥430 million in the first year, unchanged from 2008, with payments to vary in subsequent years.

Iwase will be paid the highest salary among active Japanese pitchers for the third year in a row.

In the 2007 offseason, the 34-year-old signed a one-year contract with an eye on moving to the major leagues, but said Wednesday he got a realty check after taking the losses for three games at the Beijing Olympics, where Japan missed out on a medal with a fourth-place finish.

In other transactions, Softbank Hawks infielder Hiroki Kokubo signed a salary deal for an unchanged amount of ¥300 million plus performance incentives for the third season of a four-year contract.

The Yokohama BayStars reached an agreement in principle with the agent of slugger Shuichi Murata, who led the Central League in home runs for the second straight year.

Chiba Lotte Marines submarine hurler Shunsuke Watanabe will be paid ¥170 million plus performance bonuses in 2009 — a ¥40 million pay hike from this past season.

Watanabe posted a team-high 13 wins (eight losses), reaching double digits in wins for the first time in three seasons.

Elsewhere, Saitama Seibu Lions infielder and Pacific League home run king Takeya Nakamura agreed to a salary of ¥70 million.

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