Matsuzaka – I sent all the kikuchi…Long-haired Ace, who showed interest in ML ’65 wins in Japan’, opposed to the club → Big League challenge ‘frustrated’

Matsuzaka – I sent all the kikuchi…Long-haired Ace, who showed interest in ML ’65 wins in Japan’, opposed to the club → Big League challenge ‘frustrated’

In addition to Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix Buffaloes), there could have been five major leaguers from Japan this offseason, including Shota Imanaga (Yokohama DeNA Basestars), Yuki Matsui (Rakuten Golden Eagles), and Naoyuki Uwasawa (Nihon Ham Fighters). However, opposition from the clubs prevented them from reaching the big leagues.

Japan’s Tokyo Sports reported on Aug. 8 (KST) that Kona Takahashi’s bid for the big leagues in the 2023-2024 offseason was ultimately thwarted, saying, “Changes are coming to the Seibu Lions, who have been lenient in their approach to the major leagues.”레모나토토 도메인

Takahashi began his professional career in 2014 after being selected by Seibu in the first round of the Nippon Professional Baseball Draft. Takahashi began to show promise in his rookie season, appearing in eight games (one complete game) and going 5-2 with a 3.07 ERA. The following year, however, his talents did not fully blossom, as he went 4-11 with a 4.42 ERA in 22 games, and was limited to a total of 10 appearances in the 2017-2018 season due to injury.

It wasn’t until the 2019 season that Takahashi really started to break through. He bounced back from an injury to go 10-6 with a 4.51 ERA in 21 appearances and 123⅔ innings pitched, and followed that up with an 8-8 record and 3.74 ERA in 2020. Nevertheless, Takahashi, who had never pitched more than 125 innings in his first six years as a professional, stepped up his game in 2021, going 11-9 with a 3.78 ERA in 173⅔ innings.

His “career-high” season came last year. Takahashi went 12-8 with a 2.20 ERA in 175⅔ innings over 26 games, rewriting most of his metrics, and this year he upped his velocity to 157 mph and went 10-8 with a 2.21 ERA, including four complete games in 23 games. He finished second in the Pacific League in ERA and tied for fourth in wins.

Injuries early in his career kept him from playing much, but now that he’s in his ninth season in a professional uniform, Takahashi has a shot at the major leagues through the posting system. Major league clubs were also interested in Takahashi, who was developing into one of the league’s top pitchers with a fastball that topped 150 kilometers and earned double-digit wins for three straight years. However, Seibu’s opposition prevented a move to the big leagues

“Seibu held salary negotiations with Takahashi, who has won double-digit games for three consecutive seasons and the fourth time in his career so far this year, finishing second in the Pacific League with a 2.21 ERA, on July 7,” Tokyo Sports reported. “Seibu formally informed Takahashi, who had earlier appealed for a move to the major leagues through the posting system, that he would not be allowed to post.”

Seibu has historically been very favorable to players moving to the major leagues through the posting system. Just look at Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kazuhisa Makita, and Yusei Kikuchi, who currently plays for the Toronto Blue Jays. The club has also allowed Koji Mitsui, Shinji Mori, and Hiroyuki Nakajima to post, so why the sudden change in stance?

According to Tokyo Sports, team president Hisanobu Watanabe said, “I understand that he wants to go to the major leagues as soon as possible, even if it’s just for a year. But considering the strength of the team next season, it would be very difficult without Takahashi. Posting is not a player’s right. There is a system called free agency. I understand that he wants to go, but if we just do what he says, we won’t have a team. This part is also very difficult for us. Parents want to let them go, but we can’t do that as a club. I hope you understand this,” he emphasized.

As a result, Takahashi’s chances of making it to the majors are likely to be limited to the 2025 offseason, when he will be eligible for overseas free agency, or he will run into practical barriers such as his age. At Seibu’s current pace, Taira Kaima, who is also a strong candidate for the major leagues in the future, will likely have to wait until after he is eligible for free agency overseas.

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