KOBE – Right-hander Chihiro Kaneko, this year’s Pacific League MVP and Sawamura Award winner, is staying with the Orix Buffaloes.
Kaneko, being chased by a number of Japanese clubs including the Hanshin Tigers, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, on Wednesday put pen to paper on a four-year deal worth ¥2 billion plus performance-related incentives.
“I have had fantastic offers (from other clubs), but my determination is stronger to win the pennant with my Orix teammates,” Kaneko told a press conference in Osaka.
Central League club Hanshin had also put in an offer estimated at ¥2 billion for four years.
Buffaloes club president Hiroaki Nishina said he was delighted to keep Kaneko on board.
“We have showed our intention of strengthening the team by signing players with proven track records like (Tony) Blanco, (Bryan) Bullington, (Eiichi) Koyano and (Hiroyuki) Nakajima,” said Nishina.
“Now, with Kaneko, who made such a contribution to the team challenging for the title this year, as a teammate we can aim for the title and that makes me very pleased.”
Kaneko said, “Bringing in reinforcements played a big part (in me staying).”
The 31-year-old, who had bone cartilage cleaned from his right elbow for the second time in late November, abandoned an opportunity to move to the majors this offseason via posting system.
But he indicated that moving to North America was still in his future plans.
“I would like to do that at some point,” he said.
Kaneko won the Sawamura Award as Japan’s best starting pitcher, a Golden Glove and a PL Best IX Award. He led the PL in wins with 16 and a 1.98 ERA.
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