Masahiro Tanaka is coming home. The right-hander, who in 2013 led the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles to their only Pacific League pennant and Japan Series title, is returning to the club after seven seasons with the New York Yankees, Jason Coskrey reports.
The Eagles’ 2013 Japan Series title was about more than baseball to a region still reeling from the 3/11 disasters. With the 10th anniversary of that tragedy approaching and Tanaka in search of a new team, it seemed like the perfect time to come home to Tohoku and the Eagles, Tanaka said Saturday.
Tanaka’s return is a win-win for him and the team, writes Coskrey, and is an indictment of another free agency period during which the MLB hot stove has been barely warm enough to fry an egg. As for the Eagles, they get a player who can help win games and comes with a huge dose of star power.
Meanwhile in Tokyo, ace right-hander Tomoyuki Sugano has re-signed with the Yomiuri Giants on a one-year deal reported as the highest in Japanese baseball history, having not got the offers he was hoping for from the MLB.
Sugano signed last month for a reported ¥800 million ($7.6 million). He turned down a four-year agreement with an eye on moving to the majors in 2022 after qualifying for international free agency this year.
In other news you may have missed, the Chiba Lotte Marines have suspended outfielder Ikuhiro Kiyota indefinitely after he breached the club’s rules during the pandemic to dine with an outsider and then lied about it. The dinner was in late September when Lotte was on the road in Sapporo. The team had 14 members test positive for the virus, including Kiyota, in early October.