Tomoya Mori, Yuki Nishi, Kensuke Kondo — Surprising Reason for the Giants’ FA Reinforcement Annihilation Crisis
On October 27, former head coach Kaoru Okazaki appeared on his YouTube channel and said, “The Giants are going to be aggressive on the FA front this offseason.
Whether it is foreigners or reinforcements, it is a very important process. （The Giants spent very little money last offseason (focusing on development). They have a little savings in terms of reinforcement, so they are willing to spend it.
Behind this is the lack of growth in the younger generation.
Last offseason, owner Juichi Yamaguchi declared, “We will not take any FA players, but will strengthen our strength by raising the level of foreign players and young players,” and that he would “nurture and discover new players. This season, however, the Giants had no youngsters who had emerged to the level of regulars, and their foreign pitchers were also disappointing.”
As a result, the Giants slumped to the B class for the first time in five years and failed to advance to the Climax Series for the first time under the Hara administration. The team was on the verge of falling to the bottom of the standings for the first time in 45 years. This offseason, the team is expected to change its policy and aggressively acquire FA players with its abundant financial resources.
Tomoya Mori is likely to be used in combination with other players.
This offseason’s FA holders include many big names. Seibu’s regular catcher Tomoya Mori, Hanshin’s mainstay starter Yuki Nishi, and Nippon-Ham’s good hitter Kensuke Kondo. Nishi of the Hanshin team dyed his hair black, which was thought to be a fallout to the Giants, and at one time there were speculations that the Giants would acquire them across the board. However, the reality is that the Giants have not been so lenient.
The Orix are leading the race for Mori. The team is based in Mori’s hometown of Osaka, and Mori himself was a member of the Orix Junior team when he was a boy. The Orix are an attractive team for a catcher, as they can lead powerful pitchers such as Sawamura Award winner Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Catchers are one of the key reinforcement points for the Giants, but I think it is hard to say that this is an attractive team for Mori. Manager Hara has his eye on Takuzo Oshiro, who went to Tokai University from Sagami, the same school where he played. Oshiro himself hit 13 homers and drove in 43 runs this season, both career highs, and he must be proud of being a “regular catcher who can hit. Even if Mori comes to the Giants, there is a strong possibility that he and Oshiro will be used together. The presence of Sho Nakata, a senior player from Toin Osaka, must also be a concern for Mori.
The situation regarding Nishi and Kondo is also uncertain.
At first, it was thought that Nishi might exercise his FA rights and move to a different team, but it is believed that he will remain with the team. It seems that Akifumi Okada, the new manager of the Hanshin team, appealed to the front office, saying, ‘I want you to keep Nishi at all costs. Nishi has many quality starts in which he pitches six innings and allows three earned runs or less, and he is a solid game-maker. The Hanshin made every effort to keep him.
Seibu was the first team to raise its hand to acquire Kondo. Seibu was unable to lock down all three outfield positions, Kondo’s specialty, this season. The Giants’ outfielders are mostly solid with Walker, Yoshihiro Maru, and Polanco. It is hard to believe that Kondo would be willing to move to a team that has a high hurdle to overcome to become a regular.
Despite Hara’s declaration of “aggressive reinforcement,” the Giants are in danger of being wiped out on the FA front. The pennant race next season is likely to be another tough one.
Photo: Jiji Press： Jiji Press