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Baseball: Hawks' Yanagita signs for 620 mil. yen as part of 7-yr deal

SoftBank Hawks outfielder Yuki Yanagita speaks at a press conference at PayPay Dome in Fukuoka, southwestern Japan, on Dec. 6, 2022. (Pool photo)(Kyodo)

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) -- SoftBank Hawks outfielder Yuki Yanagita, the highest-paid position player in Japanese baseball, signed Tuesday for an estimated 620 million yen ($4.52 million) for 2023, the fourth year of his seven-year contract with the Pacific League club.

    His annual salary remains unchanged from a year earlier after the 34-year-old Yanagita batted .275 with 24 home runs and 79 RBIs in 117 games for his 2022, which was interrupted by a neck injury and coronavirus infection.

    That offensive production represented a drop from 2021 when he batted .300 with 28 homers and 80 RBIs in 141 games.

    "It was terrible," Yanagita said. "I wasn't able to overcome the difficulties at all. I want to play better and lead the way for the team next season."

    The Hawks, who won four straight Japan Series championships from 2017 to 2020, have not won a PL pennant in two seasons.

    "I'll practice steadily every day. I want to come up with better numbers and win the championship," Yanagita said.

    Rakuten Eagles pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, a former New York Yankee, is Japan's highest-paid player, earning 900 million yen this past season.

    Japanese pro baseball salary figures are not made public and do not always reflect the actual amount players are paid.

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