Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Trade: Lions acquire Enokida from Tigers for Okamoto

The Saitama Seibu Lions made their first trade since 2013. They acquired P Daiki Enokida from the Hanshin Tigers in exchange for P Yosuke Okamoto on Wednesday.

Enokida, 31, fell out of favor with the Tigers and only appeared in three ichi-gun games and 6.2 innings in 2017. In 2016, he had 35 appearances out of the bullpen, which were mostly in medium or low leverage where he recorded a 4.31 ERA in 39.2 innings.

His career was originally promising as a reliever from 2011-2012 at the start of his time in NPB. For two seasons, he had a combined 2.30 ERA in 105.2 innings of work. He even appeared in the 2011 All-Star game.

The Tigers put him in the rotation for 2013 and Enokida became inconsistent. He was drafted in the first round by the Tigers in the 2010 NPB Draft, where he became a fallback option after the team lost out on the rights to Tatsuya Oishi.

Okamoto, 32, was the Lions 6th starter in the middle of the 2017 season, where he registered a 6-3 record and a 5.34 ERA. Originally a 6th round pick in 2009, Okamoto has been a back end starter for the Lions as well as someone who can eat innings out of the bullpen.

The Lions have been looking for left-handed depth and made it a priority in the first round of the 2017 draft by taking Hiromasa Saito as a fall back choice. Shota Takekuma is likely going to the rotation after doing well so far in the preseason.

With Takekuma out of the bullpen, the Lions have Shogo Noda, Saito, Hirotaka Koishi and Tomomi Takahashi as reliever options. Takahashi has struggled in the preseason and it's possible that obtaining Enokida is a vote of no confidence in who remains.

According to "T-Ray" of The Hanshin Tigers, Hanshin is looking for back end rotation help and Okamoto fits the need for depth. With Okamoto capable of being anywhere in the bullpen or rotation, he's versatile enough to be plugged in.

As I recently wrote about trades in NPB, they're usually minor and often have the feeling of it being a lateral or neutral gain for either side. This is exactly one of those cases where both teams traded a expendable pitchers hoping to gain depth for their bullpen (Lions) and rotation (Tigers). This is nothing more than a cheap depth pickup for these teams with both pitchers having minimal upside.

Time will tell what this trade is, but we thank Okamoto for his service with the Lions and being part of a decent run last season. 


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