NPB Hot Stove: Former Yankees Sign Contracts to Play in Japan 

(Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)

By Conor Liguori  

December 7, 2023  

Four former New York Yankees players have signed contracts with organizations in Nippon Professional Baseball. Outfielder Franchy Cordero and pitchers Albert Abreu, Jimmy Cordero, and Miguel Yajure are taking their talents to Japan.  

Franchy Cordero and Albert Abreu Sign with Saitama Seibu Lions- MLB Trade Rumors reports that Cordero and Abreu have signed contracts with the Saitama Seibu Lions in the Pacific League.  

Cordero has played in Major League Baseball for seven years with the San Diego Padres, Kansas City Royals, Boston Red Sox, and most recently, the New York Yankees in 2023. He is a career .217 hitter at the MLB level but has succeeded in the power department, hitting 27 home runs, including six in 24 games in 2023 with New York.  

The outfielder and designated hitter has experienced his fair share of troubles with strikeouts, punching out in 35.2 percent of his 71 MLB plate appearances in 2023 with just a 2.8 percent walk rate. He is ranked in the 61st percentile for outfield arm strength with an average throwing velocity of 86.4 mph (per Baseball Savant). Cordero’s biggest potential asset to the Seibu Lions is solid power from the left side of the batter’s box.  

Abreu posted a 4.58 ERA in four seasons with the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, and Kansas City Royals. He was primarily utilized as a mid-relief option out of the bullpen during his MLB career. He spent the 2023 season with the Yankees and had a 4.73 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 59 innings.  

Abreu’s average fastball velocity is 97 mph, and he throws a sinker, slider, and changeup to keep hitters guessing. He utilized his sinker more than any other pitch in 2023, throwing the pitch at a 54.3 percent rate (per Baseball Savant).  

Abreu should continue his career as a bullpen piece with the Lions and make a few spot starts if starting pitching injuries plague the team.  

Jimmy Cordero Signs with Chiba Lotte Marines- Relief pitcher Jimmy Cordero and the Chiba Lotte Marines have agreed to a contract for the 2024 NPB season, Yahoo Sports Japan reports.  

Cordero appeared in 31 games during the 2023 regular season for the New York Yankees but was suspended for the remainder of the year in July for violating MLB’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse Policy.  

In four seasons in MLB, Cordero posted a 4.36 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 115.2 innings out of the bullpen. His average fastball velocity is 97 mph, but he has trouble generating swings and misses, with a below-average 24.1 percent whiff rate (per Baseball Savant).  

Tokyo Yakult Swallows Sign Miguel Yajure- The Tokyo Yakult Swallows have agreed to a contract with relief pitcher Miguel Yajure for the 2024 season, Yahoo Sports Japan reports. Yajure is expected to join the Swallows’ starting pitching rotation.  

“In any role, I will do my best to demonstrate my maximum power for the team’s victory and regain the championship trophy,” Yajure told Yahoo Sports Japan.  

Yajure, 25, has made 19 appearances in MLB with the New York Yankees and, most recently, the Pittsburgh Pirates. His career ERA is 7.58, and he has experienced trouble with command, walking 28 in 46.1 innings. Yajure was traded from the Yankees to the Pirates during the 2021 offseason in a deal that sent starting pitcher Jameson Taillon to New York.  

Additional Recent Transactions (2023 Statistics/Team)  

– Saitama Seibu Lions Sign LHP Jefry Yan (16.2 IP, 1.62 ERA, 24 SO/ Estrellas Orientales)  

– Hanshin Tigers Sign RHP Javy Guerra (11 IP, 4.09 ERA, 9 SO/Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers)  

– Chunichi Dragons Sign 1B Sho Nakata (15 HR, 37 RBI, .770 OPS/ Yomiuri Giants)  

– Hiroshima Carp Sign LHP Taylor Hearn (15 IP, 11.40 ERA, 15 SO/ TEX, ATL, KCR)  

– Hiroshima Carp Sign RHP Thomas Hatch (28.2 IP, 4.08 ERA, 26 SO/ Toronto Blue Jays, Pittsburgh Pirates)  

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