Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Upcoming Free Agency

Lots of NPB free agency rumors out there right now as the period for free agents to declare themselves is now open.  Eligible players with free agency options still have several days to declare so at this point it's still unclear who exactly will be available to sign.

After missing the last two post-seasons Chunichi should be a player in the free agent market, but based on recent history they probably won't be much of one.  The Dragons have obvious needs at catcher, middle infield and starting pitching and there are some potentially useful players out there.

Lets take a look at their options at the following positions:

This may be Chunichi's greatest need, but unfortunately it looks like the two most promising catchers eligible for free agency will be remaining with their current teams.  Motohiro Shima would be a great pick up, he's a good all-around player and from the Chubu region.  Unfortunately he has chosen to remain with Rakuten.  Ginjiro Sumitani of the Lions was another potential target, though his offensive numbers are nothing special, he probably would have been upgrade for the Dragons.  He was linked to the Dragons in several articles during the season, but in the end he chose to remain with Seibu for at least one more season.

Middle Infield:
There are a few potential difference makers out there.  Hiroyuki Nakajima, Kensuke Tanaka, Yuichi Honda, Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Eishin Soyogi could all be on the market.  If I could have my choice I'd take Tanaka or Nishioka.  Tanaka is just a pro in every way, he'd look great as the two hitter in Chunichi's lineup and at second base every day.  Sounds likely though that he will be returning to the Fighters for the upcoming season.  Nishioka is one of the youngest of the group and though he's coming off of a tough injury, he has already re-acclimated himself to the NPB and had some success in 2013.  Nakajima will likely be expensive and may not be what he once was, I highly doubt Honda will exercise his option and I've never really been a fan of Soyogi though he's coming off of a couple solid seasons and I doubt he'll be leaving the Carp.

Starting Pitching:
Chunichi's first order of business in free agency was to lock up Daisuke Yamai who earned his free agent option for the first time after last season.  Yamai, coming off of his best season, will be staying with the Dragons and at a reasonable price.  Some interesting potential free agent starting pitchers are Chihiro Kaneko, Yoshihisa Naruse, Atsushi Nomi and Hiroki Kuroda.   The Dragons haven't been linked to any of these other starters so it's probably a long shot for them to go get any of them.  If they have a chance at any of them it's probably Naruse, he's going to end up somewhere.

Yakyubaka has posted a list of the players who have filed for free agency, linked here.
Ryoji Aikawa has filed and would be a nice pick up.  He's 38, so not a long term option, but could be a useful catching option for a couple years.  None of the domestic infield options I listed filed, like usual, a very limited NPB free agent class.