The Hanshin Tigers signed “B-Rank” free agent Yoshio Itoi last month, and in doing so, gave the Orix Buffaloes two options: receive a cash compensation totaling the equivalent of 60% of Itoi’s 2016 salary, or a sum equalling just 40% of his salary plus a player “to be named (by Orix) later.” If the latter option were chosen, the Tigers could protect 28 rostered players, and would not risk losing their 2016 draft picks or import players.
Orix did indeed choose the second option, and after Hanshin submitted its list of protected players, the Buffalo front office had 4 weeks to choose one of Hanshin’s remaining players. The process did not take that long, though. A decision was made late on the 15th, and was officially announced on the 16th.
Fourth year relief pitcher Kazuyuki Kaneda, Hanshin’s 5th round pick in the 2012 draft, will be playing across the Yodogawa River for the defending (?) Pacific League cellar dwellers in 2017. The sleepy-eyed 26-year old righty had this to say about the forced change of clubs: “It’s such a sudden announcement and it caught me off guard. I’m sad to have to leave the Tigers, but I hope to quickly sort out my feelings, change my mindset, and help contribute to some wins for Orix.”
Kaneda had a career 4.27 ERA in 56 games (78 innings) with the Tigers. Despite unimpressive numbers the past two years, manager Tomoaki Kanemoto had high praise for Kaneda following the team’s fall camp last month.
Since Itoi made a reported ¥280 million, this means the Buffaloes will receive ¥112 million plus Kaneda (who will cost them only around ¥10 million) instead of ¥168 million and no player. In other words, after paying Kaneda his salary, the difference sits at around ¥66 million. I wonder if Kaneda will bring the team that much value over his career. Honestly, I wish him the best with his new club. Quite honestly, there were far worse scenarios being thrown around the ‘Net about whom Orix might choose. I hate to say it, but this loss doesn’t sting so much. At least, not yet.