At least one exhibited player is not coming to the state, as Nippon Ham Fighters outfielder Haruki Nishikawa is on his way back to Nippon Professional Baseball.
With limited opportunities in midfield available this season, Nippon Ham Fighters offielder Haruki Nishikawa had hoped to be able to jump to the big ones. A smashing speedster with a good eye and excellent defense, it seemed likely that a market would emerge for Nishikawa.
While the teams reportedly had interest, it never became the market. Speedster will instead return to the warriors for at least another year.
Nishikawa had a solid nine-year run in Nippon Professional Baseball. He produced a .286 / .382 / .394 strike line in 4671 record appearances, hitting 51 homers and 173 doubles. His speed has led to 287 steals and three stolen base titles.
His impressive speed also helped him defensively. Nishikawa had earned three Gold Glove awards, and showed excellent instincts and an ability to get a strong jump on the ball. His defensive profile and strong skills led to the belief that he could emerge as someone else Ben honor type of player – a solid outfielder who can end up as a respectable leadoff hitter.
That profile also hindered his place in the open market. While Geroge Springer’s ongoing free agent saga did not help, the teams were unwilling to commit to a Nishikawa player, while similar options were available.
Nishikawa’s fortunes may change next year. Four teams – Astros, Blue Jays, Cardinals and Diamondbacks – were known to be interested in the outfielder. If he still has the desire to come to the state and join the international free agency, he may be able to fulfill his goal of playing in the big ones.
For now, the dream of Haruki Nishikawa to play in the majors is on hold, as he did not come to an agreement with a major league team. Instead, he returns to the Nippon Ham Fighters for another year.