The DeNA BayStars bolstered their bullpen on Thursday, when they announced the acquisition of first-year foreign pitcher Edwin Escobar in a trade with the Nippon Ham Fighters.

The 25-year-old Venezuelan moves to DeNA, where he’ll play for his countryman, manager Alex Ramirez. In exchange, the Fighters receive backup catcher Toshiki Kurobane.

The BayStars are in the thick of the Central League playoff chase. They started Thursday’s game in third place, a game back of the second-place Hanshin Tigers and eight games back of the league-leading Hiroshima Carp.

As of Wednesday’s games, however, BayStars relievers had posted a combined 3.90 ERA, the 10th worst in NPB.

“Frankly, he (Escobar) said he wanted to pitch a lot (with the first team),” Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama said. “He throws hard.”

“I wasn’t able to give him opportunities, and I think this is good for him.”

Escobar is 1-2 with a 5.64 ERA with the Fighters’ first team this season.

The 30-year-old Kurobane is viewed primarily as a defensive asset. In 336 career first-team games, he has a .213 batting average with six home runs and 48 RBIs. Kurobane has yet to play in a first-team game this season.

“I feel really sad to be leaving Yokohama, but by producing with Nippon Ham I hope to repay the support of the DeNA fans,” he said in a statement.

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