NPB/ Giants promised to pay rookies more than contract 'cap'

March 15, 2012

The Yomiuri Giants signed contracts to pay 3.6 billion yen ($43 million) to six rookies, 2.7 billion yen more than agreed to by professional baseball teams, The Asahi Shimbun has learned.

The six players are: catcher Shinnosuke Abe; pitcher Takahiko Nomaguchi; outfielder Yoshinobu Takahashi; pitcher Koji Uehara; infielder Tomohiro Nioka; and pitcher Tetsuya Utsumi, according to sources and in-house documents.

In 1993, Nippon Professional Baseball introduced a new draft system in which players from university and corporate leagues can name a team of their choice.

The 12 teams agreed to limit the standard signing contract to 100 million yen per player to prevent contract money from escalating amid competition to recruit promising players.

The amount was amended to 100 million yen plus 50 million yen in performance pay.

Giants officials said the team did not violate any rules.

“We believe that it is the understanding shared by all teams that the standard contract was not the upper limit until 2007, and we could pay more than that,” an official said.

The Giants signed contracts with the six players between 1997 and 2004.

Under the contracts, the amount exceeding the standard contract would be paid in installments over several years if players met performance criteria for each year, according to the sources.

In 2007, the Yokohama BayStars and Seibu Lions were found to have signed contracts with rookies exceeding the standard amount. NPB reprimanded the two teams, although the agreement on the payment was not part of the formal professional baseball agreement.

In October that year, the 12 teams formally agreed to limit the standard signing contarct to 100 million yen plus 50 million yen in performance pay and impose sanctions if the rule is broken.

Abe signed a 1-billion-yen contract when he joined the Giants in 2000 and Nomaguchi signed a 700-million-yen contract in 2004, according to the sources.

Takahashi’s contract was for 650 million yen, while the contracts for Uehara and Nioka were for 500 million yen each, according to the sources. Utsumi’s contract was for 250 million yen.

Uehara now plays for the Texas Rangers, while Nioka plays for the Nippon-Ham Fighters.

In addition to the signing contract, Uehara’s contract included 120 million yen in service pay on severance, and Nioka’s contract included 100 million yen in service and performance pay, according to the sources.

Giants officials refused to discuss the contracts. The six players also would not comment on their contracts.

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