FA Highlight: Rakuten’s Asamura’s Team Likely to Force Acquisition
Many of the players who acquired FA rights this season are big names. Seibu’s regular catcher Tomoya Mori, Hanshin’s main pitcher Yuki Nishi, and Hiroshima’s mainstay Ryoma Nishikawa.
Among them, the one whose departure is attracting the most attention is Rakuten’s main gun Eito Asamura (31). He was a two-time batting champion with Seibu and moved to Rakuten in the off-season of 2018, winning the title of homerun king in 2020. SoftBank is said to be the most open to joining the race for Asamura.
When Asamura declared his FA status in 2018, Rakuten and SoftBank were in contention until the very end. The bottleneck was said to be the presence of Kimiyasu Kudo, who was the manager at the time. During Asamura’s youth, Kudo was an active pitcher for Seibu. However, along with Dave Okubo, who was the hitting coach of the second team, Kudo was not well-liked by some of the younger players. It is said that Asamura may have shunned Kudo’s soft-bang team because of these circumstances.
Kudo left last season and is gone now, and SoftBank, with its abundant financial resources, would be able to pay Asamura’s salary, which is said to be 700 million yen. SoftBank seems to consider Asamura as a pillar of the team.
Dislikes to stand out
However, a sports reporter who knows Asamura thinks that the possibility of Asamura joining SoftBank is slim.
Asamura is the type of player who hates to stand out, which is unusual for a professional baseball player. He often says he wants to stay behind the scenes, so joining SoftBank, which has won seven league championships and seven Japan championships since its inception in 2010, would naturally draw more attention. Rakuten seems to be a comfortable place for Asamura, who is said to be on good terms with GM and manager Kazuhisa Ishii. I think there is a good chance he will stay.
Even so, there is one team that is likely to force a move for Asamura: the Giants.
The Giants. Last offseason, for the first time in nine years, the Giants did not participate in the FA competition in order to focus on the development of young players. This season, however, they slumped to the B class. The team’s batting average and defense ratio are the worst in the league, and there is a possibility that they will fall to the bottom of the standings (results as of September 5). In order to turn things around, it appears that FA reinforcements will be unleashed this off-season.
One of the most important reinforcement points is Asamura’s main position at second base. In order to make up for the humiliation of this season, they would be willing to work hard to acquire Asamura, whether it be in terms of money or other conditions. If Asamura is offered a good deal that is out of the norm, there is a possibility that his feelings will change.
Asamura said of his future, “Right now, I am only thinking about the team winning the championship. I will think about it slowly after the season is over.”
Photo: Kyodo News： Kyodo News