The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks have agreed to a deal in principle with Hotaka Yamakawa, a three-time Pacific League home run leader who was suspended for much of the 2023 season by the Seibu Lions after being accused of sexual assault, club sources said Thursday.
The 32-year-old first baseman, who was a member of Japan's 2023 World Baseball Classic-winning team, became a domestic free agent last month. In August, prosecutors declined to bring charges against him over the alleged assault due to insufficient evidence.
The Hawks finished third in the PL this year and had been in need of a right-handed power hitter.
The 2018 Pacific League MVP was limited to 17 games this year, hitting .254 with no homers and five RBIs.
Meanwhile, the Hawks' Pacific League rival Lotte Marines announced the acquisition of two-time Central League home run leader Neftali Soto.
The former Cincinnati Reds first baseman batted .234 with 14 home runs and 50 RBIs for the DeNA BayStars in 2023, his sixth year in Japan.