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The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles board of directors on Tuesday decided to formally offer two-time Pacific League winner Masataka Nashida the manager’s job for next season.

The 62-year-old Nashida, who won the PL title with the Kintetsu Buffaloes and the Nippon Ham Fighters, is unlikely to turn down the offer to succeed outgoing manager Hiromoto Okubo and an announcement is expected to be made at the end of the season.

Eagles vice chairman Senichi Hoshino, who guided the Eagles to their first PL pennant in 2013, stopped short of naming names but said, “We’ve whittled it down and will get negotiations underway.”

A catcher who spent his entire playing career with the PL’s Buffaloes, Nashida managed that club to the 2001 league pennant only to lose the Japan Series. When the team folded in a merger with the Kansai rival Orix BlueWave in 2004, Nashida was crushed.

“The only team I’d ever been with had ceased to exist and that took a toll,” he said in February 2008 after his appointment to manage Nippon Ham.

The following season, Nashida led the Fighters to their third PL championship. But once more his club lost the season-ending championship series.

Nashida would be a natural to manage the Eagles, a team created to fill the void left by the Orix-Kintetsu merger and one that was originally stocked with surplus players from Orix and Kintetsu.

Rakuten is now headed for a second straight last-place finish, with Okubo intending to step down to take responsibility for the disappointing season.

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