On November 1, Yoshio Itoi of the Orix Buffaloes declared free agency. The Japanese professional baseball is different from the Major League Baseball. When the player declared free agency, he will be Free Agent and can negotiate with other teams. Itoi told that want to hear the evaluation of the other teams. He is possible to negotiate with other teams from November 11.
Yoshio Itoi ’s biography is that he’s the age of 35, and he was born at Kyoto. He was drafted by the Hokkaido Nipponham Fighters in 2003 draft. He contracted with the Fighters and he was a pitcher. But he was sluggish and couldn’t played in the first team until 2 years. Itoi had a good batting and he was swift-footed, so he turned to the outfielder in 2006. Then he could played in the first team, he became a regular player from 2009. His stats was 306. average and 24 stolen bases, he won the Gold Glove Award in 2009 season. After that, he won won the Gold Glove Award for 6 years in a row.
Itoi wanted to transfer to the MLB, but he was traded to the Orix Buffaloes for 3 players in 2013 preseason. He was active in the Buffaloes. He became a batting leader in 2014 season, his stats was 331. average. In 2016 season, Itoi has gotten 53 stolen bases and became a stolen base leader. This was the history of the oldest of the stolen base leader. He also convented in the Japan national baseball team of 2013 world baseball classic.
Where is Free Agant Yoshio Itoi going to play next season? It was considered two possibilities. First of all, he also will play in the Buffaloes next year. This is a 80% probability. Because the Buffaloes presented the contract of 4 years and 1.8 billion yen total to him. His salary was 280 million yen in this year, so this is a considerable salary increase. And Itoi is 35 years old now, he is more and more participation in the designated hitter. In 2015 season he played in the designated hitter in 44 games, and played in the designated hitter in 25 games on 2016 season. So he will be able to play long in the Buffaloes.
Is there a possibility that he will play in the other team? According to the news report in Japan, the Hanshin Tigers and the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants considered the acquisition of Itoi. But Second of all, he will move to the Tokyo Yakult Swallows at a probability of 20%. Because the Swallows does not contract with Wladimir Balentien next year. Balentien hit 60 home runs in 2013, but he has a bad outfield defense and his salary is high. So the Swallows is empty outfield positions. Also the family of Itoi live in Tokyo, so the Swallows is the team to attend from his home.
There is the other reason. Because Hiroyasu Tanaka was resigning from the Swallows, the uniform number 7 of the Swallows is empty. Itoi is with the uniform number 7 from 2011 so he get the same uniform number at the Swallows. And more than anything, the Swallows is in a free atmosphere. It’s prohibited to dye or stretch the hair at the Tigers and the Giants, but No such rules in the Swallows. The Swallows is a perfect team to Itoi who has blond hair, he also can play carefree. Balentien’s salary was 360 million yen in 2016 season, the Swallows will be able to acquire Itoi in the money. In that case, the Buffaloes would contract with Daikan Yoh (Dai-kang Yang) of the Fighters who considered to declare free agency.
This youtube’s video is Itoi’s defense of outfielder. He has a strong arm so he is called the superman.