Jose Espada Signs One-Year Deal With Tokyo Yakult Swallows

Jose Espada made his MLB debut for the San Diego Padres on Sept. 24, 2023. He’ll pitch for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in Japan in 2024. (Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

Puerto Rican right-handed pitcher Jose Espada signed a one-year deal for $700,000 with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows for the 2024 Nippon Professional Baseball season, Yahoo Japan News reported on Monday. 

Espada also stated on his X profile that he will play for the Swallows during the 2024 season.

Espada, 26, was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and has played in the San Diego Padres organization for two seasons. He signed a minor league contract as a free agent on July 1, 2022, and was assigned to High-A Fort Wayne. 

Last season, Espada split time with Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A El Paso, posting a 3-2 record with a 2.81 ERA, throwing 83.1 innings over 35 appearances and nine starts, allowing 64 hits, 26 earned runs, seven home runs, 44 walks, 110 strikeouts, and a 1.296 WHIP. 

The Padres selected Espada’s contract on September 22, and he made his Major League Baseball debut on September 24 against the St. Louis Cardinals, throwing one inning in his lone MLB appearance with two walks and two strikeouts. 

Espada elected free agency on November 17 and later signed a minor league contract with the Padres on November 25. He was released on December 13 and signed with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.

During the 2022-23 winter league season, Espada played for the Gigantes de Carolina in Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente in Puerto Rico, and was a reinforcement for the Indios de Mayaguez at the 2023 Caribbean Series in Caracas, Venezuela. Espada threw 22 innings with the Gigantes de Carolina, going 3-1 with a 1.23 ERA in 19 appearances and one start, allowing nine hits, three earned runs, 13 walks, 33 strikeouts, and a 1.000 WHIP. At the 2023 Caribbean Series, he threw one game out of the bullpen, allowing two walks and striking out one batter. 

Espada was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the fifth round of the 2015 MLB June Amateur Draft and signed out of Jose Collazo Colon High School in Juncos, Puerto Rico. Espada has played eight minor league seasons and five winter league seasons during his career. He is 20-26 in his professional career, throwing 497 innings with a lifetime 3.78 ERA in 185 appearances and 79 starts, allowing 407 hits, 209 earned runs, 53 home runs, 207 walks, 562 strikeouts, and a 1.235 WHIP. 

All 12 NPB teams will report to training camp during the middle of January. The Tokyo Yakult Swallows will play their first game of the 2024 NPB regular season on March 29 on the road against the Chunichi Dragons at the Vantelin Dome in Nagoya, Japan.

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