Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pirates trade Japanese pitcher to Toronto.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are again without an Asian player, trading relief pitcher Ryota Igarashi to Toronto for future considerations. The site Jays Journal says he
won’t be considered for a position in the Jays’ bullpen given that it’s already full, so he’s purely a depth pickup and that will spend the season with Triple-A Las Vegas. As a pitcher with a decent splitter that can generate ground balls but also rack up strikeouts, though, he’s a solid, low cost pickup for Vegas’ bullpen.
Igarashi, a 32-year-old out of Chiba who has 5 wins in 79 Major League appearances, signed a minor-league contract with Pittsburgh in December, a move that completely escaped my notice.

Pittsburgh has experimented with a few Asian-born players, but none have lasted an entire season, as I noted in a December post about some rumored free agent targets. My favorite, for sentimental reasons because he was a guy I wanted to see succeed after finally getting to the US, was Masume Kuwata, the 39-year-old pitcher signed in 2007. The sequence on his Baseball Reference wiki, though, shows a typical Pirates acquisition:
"1987-1994: The Glory Years," "1995-1996: Injury," "1997-2002: Post-Injury," "2003-2006: Further decline," "To the USA."