Kei Igawa is going back to Japan

After four years, $46 million, and a 6.66 ERA in just 71.2 innings, the Yankees and Japanese pitcher Kei Igawa parted ways this offseason when he became a free agent. Igawa had said he wanted to stay in America, but he must not have found any takers as he is headed back to Japan.

Igawa has agreed to a two-year deal worth ¥200M or about $2.5 million with the Orix Buffaloes, according to a Nikkan Sports report (thanks to Patrcik Newman of NPB Tracker for translating).

The Yankees signed Igawa in response to the Red Sox acquisition of Daisuke Matsuzaka and later on admitted that they did not properly scout him. They paid a $26 million posting fee and gave him a four-year, $20 million deal and it was almost immediately obvious that he couldn’t cut it in the big leagues.

In 2007, his first season in Pinstripes, he had a 6.25 ERA in just 67.2 innings in the majors. In 2008 he pitched just four innings in the majors despite the fact that the Yankees needed 13 starting pitchers that year. After that the Yankees just kept him in the minors unwilling to trade him to save some money on the luxury tax. Not that there were a lot of takers anyway, but the San Diego Padres at one time claimed him off waivers, but the Yankees took him off waivers when the two sides couldn’t reach a deal.

He’s back in Japan now. It wasn’t the Yankees fault that he wasn’t scouted properly and came over with crazy expectations. I still wish him the best.

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2 Responses to Kei Igawa is going back to Japan

  1. Matt_DC says:

    I read an article last year (I cannot remember where) chronicling Igawa's frustration that he was so far down the Yankees depth chart. While young pitchers moved past him to AAA and even to the big club, Igawa diligently showed up for work. The Yankees must have partly based their evaluation on his strong showing at the World Baseball Classic in 2006. Either way, I wish him the best as well.