• Kyodo


The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and Tokyo Yakult Swallows have agreed to a four-player deal, the two NPB teams announced Tuesday.

The Fighters, in need of relief pitchers, sent right-hander Hirotoshi Takanashi and infielder Kengo Ota in exchange for right-hander Ryo Akiyoshi and infielder Ryota Yachi from the Swallows, who are looking to boost their starting rotation.

Named the Pacific League Rookie of the Year in 2016, Takanashi went 22-17 with a 3.53 ERA in 79 games over his four seasons with Nippon Ham. He made 18 starts this year and finished with a 5-7 record.

“The fans in Hokkaido really cheered me on. I want to take all that experience to my new home, do well there and return the favor by beating the Fighters in the Japan Series,” Takanashi said.

Ota, who just completed his second season in professional baseball, batted .194 in 54 games this past season.

Akiyoshi joined Yakult from Panasonic’s corporate league team in 2014, and pitched more than 60 games in each of his first three seasons. He has a 19-17 record over his career with a 2.68 ERA and 34 saves in 283 games.

Yachi played six years for the Swallows, hitting .227 in 154 games.

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