• Kyodo

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Fukuoka Softbank Hawks outfielder Yuki Yanagita, who won his second Pacific League MVP award last week, signed a contract worth ¥610 million ($5.9 million) plus incentives for next season on Wednesday.

The deal, a ¥40 million increase from his last salary, equals Hideki Matsui’s salary with the Yomiuri Giants in 2002 as the highest reported among Japanese position players in Nippon Professional Baseball.

The highest reported single-season salary of all time in NPB is the ¥650 million that Yomiuri Giants pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano made in 2020.

“I received high evaluations for all my offensive contributions. It’s been a great year but next year is just around the corner,” said Yanagita, who signed a seven-year deal with the Hawks in the 2019 offseason.

Unlike major league contracts, deals between Japanese teams and their players are not officially made public, and thus their precise terms are subject to speculation. Even players with multiyear contracts must sign annual one-year contracts that the club files with Nippon Professional Baseball’s commissioner’s office.

This year Yanagita batted.342 with a league-leading 146 hits, 29 homers and 86 RBIs, helping the Hawks clinch their first PL pennant in three years and fourth straight Japan Series title. He won his first MVP award in 2015.

The season before last, the 32-year-old was limited to just 38 games because of a left leg injury, but this year he played in all but one game despite experiencing neck and lower back pain.

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