Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Trio of NPB stars planning to file for free agency

Kyodo

Orix Buffaloes right-hander Yuki Nishi, Seibu Lions infielder Hideto Asamura and Hiroshima Carp outfielder Yoshihiro Maru said Wednesday they intend to exercise their domestic free agency rights this offseason.

A 10-year veteran in Nippon Professional Baseball, Nishi went 10-13 with a 3.60 ERA in 2018, when he was named Opening Day starter for the first time. He posted double-digit wins in four of the last five seasons.

The 27-year-old threw a no-hitter against the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in October 2012. He is 74-65 in 209 games over his career.

Meanwhile, Asamura said he has not made up his mind about leaving his club of nine years, but is willing to speak with teams interested in acquiring him.

As the team’s captain and slugging second baseman, Asamura hit .310 with 32 homers and a Pacific League-leading 127 RBIs to help the Lions clinch their first league pennant in 10 years.

He has a career batting average of .287 with 1,178 hits, 147 homers and 645 RBIs in 1,113 games.

Later on Wednesday, Maru, 29, said he will file for free agency, saying he would like to best utilize the system for a chance to negotiate with other teams.

Maru hit .306 with 132 hits, including 39 homers, and 97 RBIs in 125 games this season. He also had the league’s best on-base percentage of .468, contributing to the Carp’s league three-peat.

In 2013 he won the stolen base title, while in 2017 he was named Central League MVP after leading the league in hits.

In his nine-year career, he batted .280 with 1,079 hits and 540 RBIs in 1,089 games.

In NPB, a player qualifies as a domestic free agent after eight years of service on the active roster.