New Hanshin Import AAA MVP Hague! High Hopes for “3B Batting 5th”
Hague it is. We learned on the 20th that the Hanshin Tigers have successfully negotiated and reached a basic agreement with infielder Matt Hague (30) of the Toronto Blue Jays (MLB). The club has also made it clear they are counting on him to bat fifth and play third base. The signing will be officially announced after the formality of signing a contract is completed in December when the team sends a representative stateside. (Editor’s note: looks like this has already taken place, based on this photo…)
The post-Murton era is finally starting to look clearer. Hague the Tiger has finally been born. Club management has revealed that an agreement has been reached.
“It’s done. I hear all that’s left is ironing out the details and paying the transfer fee.”
Hague played 136 games for the Jays’ AAA team in Buffalo, hitting .338 with 11 homers and 92 RBIs. He’s got a unique batting form and has the ability to hit the outside pitch for extra bases, and hides some decent power in his bat as well. He can play first, third and left. The team got serious about negotiating with Hague towards the end of October. Manager Kanemoto has watched video on him, and Hague himself showed an interest in playing in Japan, hiring an agent to negotiate a deal for him.
Team management has said his work ethic and attitude towards practice resembles the Japanese way, and that they are excited to see him play in his new home. The club will send a representative to America in December. Once a contract is signed in person, an official announcement will follow.
The “HG Cannon” is complete. Mauro Gomez, who has mainly hit cleanup the past two seasons, is set to come back for another year. The final decision on batting order will be made by Kanemoto, but others in the organization anticipate Hague, who appears to be a good contact hitter, will be the new #5 hitter. His strikeout rate in AAA was low, and he drew a decent amount of walks. He’s got a long reach, and his bat should have no problems reaching those outside pitches that get called strikes in Japanese ball. He should be able to make the necessary adjustments. Says one team affiliate: “They’re counting on him to hit behind Gomez. If Gomez goes down on strikes, we need the next guy to avoid the same fate. In that sense, putting someone who makes good contact next in the order is logical.”
Hague took home the MVP Award in the AAA International League. He’s also hit over .300 against left-handed hitters at the MLB level. The new import fielding combo under the Kanemoto regime is set. “Batting fifth, third baseman Matt Hague.” Let’s hope they begin their assault on the enemy early, like on Opening Day next March 25 against Chunichi at Kyocera Dome.
Hiroshima Showed Interest, Too
Hague was also high on Hiroshima’s list of potential signees. When talking face to face at the owners’ meetings on the 18th, Carp owner Matsuda sang Hague’s praises to Hanshin owner Sakai, “He’s good. He’s got decent power, too.” Getting an endorsement like that from the same guy who has previously signed sluggers Kira and Eldred to contracts gives us plenty to be hopeful about.
Matt Hague (マット・ヘイグ）
Born on August 20, 1985 (30 years old) in Bellevue, WA (USA). Played in Kentwood High, Washington State University, Oklahoma State University and was drafted in 2008 in the 9th round by the Pirates. Made his MLB debut on April 7, 2012 against the Phillies. Didn’t play in the majors in 2013. After just 3 MLB appearances in 2014, moved to the Blue Jays in August. He played in 10 games with the Jays in 2015. In 43 career MLB games, he hit .226 with no home runs and 7 RBIs. In 937 minor league games, he hit .301 with 79 home runs and 534 RBIs. He is 191 cm tall and 102 kg. He throws and hits right.