Kei Igawa isn’t quite as buried on that Yankees’ depth chart as Carl Pavano, but it’s close. And he’s already homesick. We’ve heard from two different baseball men recently that Igawa asked the Yankees over the winter if there was any way he could return to Japan. The Yankees quietly explored their options, got nowhere and gave up. They’re still on the hook for nearly $11 million to Igawa through the 2010 season.
Remember the Kevin Millar “Japan” thing back in 2003? Via the Times:
Kevin Millar was obtained by the Boston Red Sox in a cash deal with the Florida Marlins yesterday after the Japanese team he agreed to sign with last month released him from his contract.
The Marlins received an undisclosed payment for Millar, 31, a first baseman-outfielder.
Millar, who led Florida with a .306 batting average last season, agreed in early January to a two-year, $6.2 million contract with the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Central League. The Marlins released him in exchange for a $1.2 million payment from the Dragons. Millar, who was being pursued by the Red Sox, then changed his mind about playing in Japan, saying his family did not want him to leave at a time of possible war with Iraq.
After talks with Major League Baseball officials, the Dragons released Millar on Friday for an undisclosed payment, the commissioner’s office said. One of the negotiators said the amount would be $1.2 million to $1.5 million.
Theo Epstein, Boston’s general manager, said the Red Sox were not involved in the discussions to free Millar from the Dragons.
It’s a shame the Yankees couldn’t work out something like this – in reverse – where Japan gave the Yankees an undisclosed payment to release Igawa – and then Kei was free to return to Japan. Doesn’t seem so hard, does it? Unless, of course, no one in Japan wanted to touch Igawa with a ten foot pole…and, if true, that makes the Yankees call to spend $46 million on him look even worse, now.