Fighters sign longtime Buffaloes pitcher Chihiro Kaneko

Kyodo

The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters announced Tuesday they have reached a contract agreement with right-handed free agent pitcher Chihiro Kaneko, who sepnt 13 seasons with the Orix Buffaloes.

Kaneko, who received a reported ¥600 million ($5.27 million) salary in the 2018 season with Orix, pitched 17 games and went 4-7 in the final year of his four-year contract.

The 35-year-old opted for free agency rather than accept the reported ¥100 million deal he was offered by Orix, a number well below the maximum 40 percent year-on-year pay cut allowed under league rules for players earning over ¥100 million annually.

With the Fighters still negotiating to renew the contract of free agent righty Nick Martinez, who went 10-11 in his debut NPB season this year, the team hopes to bolster their bullpen by adding Kaneko.

Kaneko won the Pacific League MVP Award and Sawamura Award in 2014 for posting a 16-5 record with a 1.98 ERA.

Over 13 seasons and 316 games with the Buffaloes, he had 120 wins and 78 losses with a 2.96 ERA.