On Wednesday four top Japanese baseball players became free agents and have now set their sights on joining Major League Baseball for the 2013 season.
The four players include right-handed closer Kyuji Fujikawa formerly of the Hanshin Tigers, short stop Hiroyuki Nakajima formerly of the Seibu Lions, former Nippon Ham Fighters infielder Kensuke Tanaka and catcher Takeshi Hidaka formerly of the Orix Buffaloes.
Of the four players the two best may arguably be Fujikawa and Nakajima who have both flirted with Major League level action in the past. Fujikawa has played for the two-time World Baseball Classic Champions Japan in both 2006 and 2009 while Nakajima not only played for the 2009 Japanese team but was also highly sought after by the New York Yankees in 2011 when the team won the negotiating rights with him but failed to agree to terms on a deal to bring the short stop to the Bronx.
Throughout his 12 season career the 32-year old Fujikawa has recorded 220 saves and is also a four-time Nippon Professional Baseball all-star. Nakajima is currently 30-years old and has played for 11 seasons in japan and has been named an all-star seven times along with compiling a lifetime average of .302 with 149 homers, 664 runs batted-in and 134 stolen bases.
The 31-year old Tanaka has played 13 seasons in Japan and has a .286 lifetime average while manning both middle infield positions exceptionally well. The 35-year old Hidaka is considered one of the top defensive catchers in Japan and has a lifetime batting average of .236 with 77 home runs and 427 runs batted-in.