The 2016 NPB Trade deadline comes at the end of July like in MLB. July 31st is also the deadline for any foreign signings if anyone wants to make a late addition.
For those who don’t know, trades in Japan are very minor for the most part. While trades aren’t rare, they don’t happen often and usually occur for a few reasons as follows:
1. The player is expendable
As with a lot of trades in sports, there’s no room on the roster to play someone and there’s most likely other players in front of him on a depth chart. Some guys just end up remaining buried.
2. Teams have no idea what to do with a player
Like the aforementioned reason above, there are times we see a logjam and there’s occasional panic if someone has a player they don’t want or need. Sometimes they try to find a taker. Of course this is the reason for one blockbuster trade that sent Yoshio Itoi from the Fighters to the Orix Buffaloes because he entered the final year of control and they weren’t sure what to do with him in a panic minset.
3. Teams attempt to get cheap depth
There’s the ever classic low risk in trades mostly in Japan, as teams will trade an expendable player for someone else’s expendable player. Typically trades in Japan are lateral with no major significance. Occasionally some players will be sold for cash with no room with their former club.
From a Lions standpoint in 2016, the team cleared a roster spot as they released Andy Van Hekken this past weekend. There are currently 69 players on the 70-man roster as a result. Recently, they signed Felipe Paulino to be part of the team’s rotation.
With several other teams signing players, it’s uncertain on who has a roster spot available for a possible trade. The Lions could purchase a player (sometimes known as trading for cash) with one roster spot open.
First is looking at who the Lions would even target. Most likely they would want a pitcher who could get a look in the bullpen or rotation, but as mentioned before, they would have to do some digging on who would be available.
Here is a list that we’ve compiled on Lions who have appeared expendable for 2016. This is all a speculation list based on ichi-gun roster activity and playing time. A young player like Hotaka Yamakawa obviously doesn’t count.
OF Yutaro Osaki: Osaki has been with the Lions since 2007. He last played a significant number of games from 2012-2013. This season, he has only played in four ichi-gun games and is mostly seen as a pinch hitter. With the outfield revolving door being reduced in 2016 compared to 2015, there is possibly no room for him in the RF by committee role.
C Takanori Hoshi: Hoshi was a player purchase from the Yomiuri Giants in 2011. He mostly serves as a farm catcher and has not appeared in an ichi-gun game since 2014. However, the Lions most likely prefer him as a developmental catcher to work with the younger pitchers in ni-gun.
P Yosuke Okamoto: Okamoto has been a spot starter and middle reliever for the Lions since 2010. After playing a significant number of innings and earning meaningful games in the second half of 2015, he hasn’t found a role this season. He had a six-run outing in Sendai only recording one out in early April. He hasn’t appeared in an ichi-gun game since April 24, where he gave up there runs in 1/3rd of an inning.
P Takuya Toyoda: Toyoda was a draft pick in 2013 and spent time as a middle reliever in 2014. He has yet to play in an ichi-gun game for 2016 and has been buried in ni-gun. Toyoda helped preserve a tie in Nagoya against the Chunichi Dragons in 2015, where he pitched the ever-dreaded bottom of the 12th inning.
P Takayuki Yamaguchi: Like Toyoda, Yamaguchi was drafted in 2013 out of an industrial league. He has yet to play an ichi-gun game and didn’t play for the ni-gun so far in 2016. Most likely he is battling an injury, but not finding playing time can always put someone on the trading block.
In short, it’s very doubtful the Lions trade anyone as the deadline is near. They are more likely to sign another foreign free agent before July 31 if they want to get a head start on finding someone for 2017.
Originally Posted on Graveyard Baseball
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