Tuesday, July 25, 2017

2017 NPB Trade deadline: Seibu Lions candidates to send away or release

The 2017 NPB Trade deadline is on July 31, but it is mostly an afterthought. While trades can happen in Japan, it usually occurs when it involves an expendable player.

In MLB, we see teams make trades to get better, or sell for the long term. Blockbuster trades are rare in Japan, with the last significant deal being in 2013 involving Yoshio Itoi. If there is a trade, it happens in the offseason majority of the time.

For the Saitama Seibu Lions, there is always a possibility of a trade, but it very doubtful overall. The roster is currently full with 70 players being the maximum. They can sell a player for cash if another team has fewer than 70 players on its roster, but they would likely have to do a one-for-one swap if they wanted to make a deal in 2017.

The Lions can always use pitching depth, but if there was an outfielder who can be useful in pinch, it wouldn't hurt. As said, a trade in NPB is usually done to get rid of the player sent off due to having no room or clue on what to do with him.

Unless you're the Fighters (just kidding,) trades are rare, but here are some players the Lions can get rid of to other teams. This list can also function as a way of seeing who looks expendable as they could be cut after the 2017 season ends. From seeing the 2015 and 2016 editions, two players would be gone by season's end, so we project at least two of these names won't exist with the Lions in 2018.

P Takuya Toyoda  - Toyoda has been with the Lions since 2013 while taken out of an Industrial League, being a Shakaijin. He saw limited time in 2015 and 2016 with no ichi-gun games up to this point in 2017. It's possible that other relievers have made him expendable.

P Toshihiro Iwao - Iwao had some interesting numbers in FIP with his ability to strikeout others, but he also had no control and would give up some juicy pitches for opposing hitters to smash. He was drafted in 2009 and has also not seen an ichi-gun game in 2017. Iwao only played in two games for 2016, his lowest total since 2010 while never appearing from 2011-2012.

P Ryohei Fujiwara - Fujiwara is at best a middle reliever at best, but is only seen as organizational depth. At 31 years old, there is minimal upside for the side arm pitcher to do much. Typically, he'll see less than 10 games at the ichi-gun level with the horrendous 2014 season being an exception.

P Chun-Lin Kuo - Kuo becomes one of the more sad stories among Lions foreigners. After showing promise as a rookie in 2015, things only went downhill. He tried being a reliever in 2016 and his control was not there. He would also be lit up by opposing hitters as a starter last season.

For 2017. Kuo put his stock into the World Baseball Classic with the Taiwanese National Team and didn't train with the Lions in spring camp down in Miyazaki. The worst case scenario would happen in Seoul, as Team Israel would light up the boxscore and Kuo failed to record three outs. With a Lions executive most likely at the game, it's presumed that the team doesn't think highly of him in comparison to everyone else. NPB does not look like the future home of Kuo's career and he will need to look elsewhere to continue playing.

P Alexis Candelario - Candelario was a cheap signing in the offseason and has only seen one spot start in Fukuoka, where he was lit up. He is seeing time in ni-gun as a starter, but has no upside at age 35.

P Frank Garces - Garces was given a few soft starts as well as a role in the bullpen in middle relief. He was either really good, or really bad in his outings leading to inconsistency and became deactivated to make room for Stephen Fife. He can still be a reliever as a lefty specialist, but his lack of velocity was not intimidating as he would often hang a few pitches to send deep.

C Komei Fujisawa - Fujisawa was a former ikusei pick who would eventually be promoted to the 70-man roster. He primarily serves as a farm catcher with others blocking him from playing at the ichi-gun level.

C Shota Nakata - Like Fujisawa, Nakata is also a farm catcher who is part of the rotation. It's possible he could serve as a coach like his predecessor, Takanori Hoshi.

C Tatsuyuki Uemoto - Uemoto was the top pinch hitting option for the Lions in 2016 under Norio Tanabe. Fast forward to 2017 and he has only seen a handful of games while being on the ichi-gun roster the entire time. Hatsuhiko Tsuji favors Naoto Watanabe among options off the bench while Uemoto is just a witness. At age 36, is it possible that he will be forced to retire?

IF Yuji Onizaki - Onizaki was acquired in a trade with the Yakult Swallows where the Lions gave up pitcher Chikara Onodera in the process. He saw several games at the ichi-gun level, but has not played one in 2017 thanks to Sosuke Genda. Onizaki is 34 and there is currently no room for him to play on the infield with the Lions.

OF Yutaro Osaki - Osaki was a regular outfielder for the Lions in 2009 and 2012, but has mostly been a part time player since. The Lions would bring him up if they liked a matchup. Under Tsuji, he has yet to play an ichi-gun game with the team preferring the younger Shuta Tonosaki in the outfield. Like most of this list, Osaki will be 33 in October and it's more of an uphill battle to get playing time with the team.

OF Masato Kumashiro - Kumashiro saw playing time in 2012 and 2013, but his time would be limited to being a spell outfielder since 2014. His defense is decent, but the Lions prefer better range under Tsuji, where Yuji Kaneko and Tonosaki roam the outfield. Kumashiro looks to be an odd man out unless injuries pile up.


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