A year ago, the Phils hunted Japanese import Hiroki Kuroda, who would eventually sign with the Dodgers. With several relievers exploring a move to the States, are the Phils making some long-distance calls?
It’s a question I’m hoping will get asked this week, if only because I’m already sick of reading about Mark DeRosa. Yesterday, the Seibu Lions posted lefty reliever Koji Mitsui, at 35-year-old coming off a bad year, but solid in 2006 and 2007. He is expected to command a small posting fee. In addition to Mitsui, there are several other options available. Chunichi Dragon closer Hitoki Iwase, considered one of the top potential imports, declined free agency and elected to stay in Nagoya, but two others remain. Dragons ace Kenshin Kawakami and Yomiuri Giants closer Koji Uehara are both available and both linked to the Orioles with offers believed to be 2-years, $10 million. According to Kawakami’s agent, he’s spoken with 10 teams. I did not spot the word “Phillies” when I ran the original Japanese report through Google’s translation tool. As for Uehara, my only insight is that it was a popular jersey among fans when I visited the TokyoDome last year.
In other Japanese player news, Yankee bust Kei Igawa is eligible for tomorrow’s Rule 5 draft.
For an updated list of Japanese free agents, click [here].