NPB: Yomiuri Giants Swap Outfielder Walker For Pair of Pitchers

Pitcher Rei Takahashi of Japan throws in the top of 7th inning during the game one of the Japan and MLB All Stars at Tokyo Dome on November 9, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. Takahashi has been acquired by the Yomiuri Giants along with Keisuke Izumi. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

The Yomiuri Giants wasted no time before stocking up on arms after the 2023 Nippon Professional Baseball season ended on Sunday night.

The Giants acquired two right-handed pitchers from the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, Keisuke Izumi and Rei Takahashi, in exchange for outfielder Adam Walker on Monday morning in Japan. 

Izumi completed his fifth season in Nippon Professional Baseball, and in four out of the five seasons that he has played at the professional level, he has split time between the main club and the minor league team with SoftBank. Izumi also helped the SoftBank Hawks win their 11th Japan Series championship title in 2020. 

Izumi pitched in 46 games out of the bullpen at the farm level this past season, posting a 4-2 record and a 4.18 ERA. Izumi recorded two saves while throwing 47.1 innings and allowing 48 hits, 22 earned runs, one home run, five walks, and 32 strikeouts with a 1.120 WHIP. 

Izumi also appeared in three games with the SoftBank Hawks and recorded a 16.88 ERA, throwing 2.2 innings and allowing four hits, five earned runs, one home run, three walks, and two strikeouts.   

In five seasons with Izumi playing at both the minor league level and in NPB, he has a 12-12 record  with a 3.64 ERA in 245 appearances, throwing 269.1 innings and allowing 259 hits, 109 earned runs, 18 home runs, 105 walks, 212 strikeouts, and a 1.351 WHIP. His salary this season was 28 million yen, or approximately US$180,000, according to a report from Yahoo! Japan.

Takahashi has also split the majority of his professional career between the farm level and the main club with the SoftBank Hawks over six seasons. Takahasi won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2019 and was an All-Star also in the same season. He also won three championships with SoftBank from 2018-20. 

During this past season in Japan’s minor leagues, Takahashi went 7-1 in 21 appearances and posted a 1.24 ERA. Takahashi threw 79.2 innings and allowed 66 hits, 11 earned runs, one home run, 14 walks, and 57 strikeouts with a 1.004 WHIP. His annual salary is 43 million yen, or approximately US$286,000, according to a report from Yahoo! Japan.

Takahashi appeared in five games with the SoftBank Hawks, posting a 0-2 record with a 10.80 ERA, throwing 11.2 innings and allowing 23 hits, 14 earned runs, three home runs, six walks, and two strikeouts with a 2.486 WHIP. 

Takahashi played in the 2019 WBSC Premier 12 tournament, helping Japan win the gold medal at the Tokyo Dome when they beat South Korea 5-3 in the championship game. During the Premier 12, Takahashi went 2-1 in two starts and three appearances with a 1.50 ERA and threw 12 innings, allowing six hits, three doubles, two earned runs, four walks, and five strikeouts while facing 40 batters. 

In six seasons, Takahashi has a 35-17 record combined between the NPB and Japan’s minor leagues, with a 3.14 ERA, four saves and 189 appearances. Takahashi has thrown 493.2 innings, allowing 412 hits, 172 earned runs, 24 home runs, 198 walks, and 305 strikeouts as a professional. 

Walker finished his second season playing in Japan and split time between the Giants and the minor league team during the 2023 regular season. Walker played in 57 games with the Giants, batting .263 in 120 plate appearances with 31 hits, four doubles, two triples, six home runs, 20 RBI, two walks, 39 strikeouts and a .758 OPS. 

During Walker’s time with the Giants farm team, he played in 52 games with 171 plate appearances, batting .258 with 42 hits, 14 doubles, seven home runs, 20 RBI, five walks, 33 strikeouts and a .765 OPS. Walker made 100 million yen last season, or about US$667,000 according to a report from Yahoo! Japan.

The Giants did not make the playoffs, finishing fourth in the Central League at 71-70-2 in 2023. The SoftBank Hawks finished in third place of the Pacific League at 71-69-3, earning a spot in the playoffs where they lost to the second place Chiba Lotte Marines at 70-68-5 in the first round best-of-three Climax Series. 

NPB will open up their camps for all 12 teams during the middle of January to prepare for the start of the 2024 regular season. 

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