Roberto Osuna (27-SoftBank Hawks), the youngest player in Major League Baseball history to record 100 career saves, is set to sign the highest contract in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) history.
Japanese media outlets including Sportshochi and Nikkan Sports reported on Thursday that SoftBank’s foreign closer Osuna has decided to stay with the team next year and has agreed to a mega contract worth a total of 4 billion yen (about $35 billion) over four years.굿모닝토토 주소
With an average annual salary of 1 billion yen, it will be the highest contract in Nippon Professional Baseball history. The previous record was 900 million yen for two years in 2021 and 2022 for pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (Rakuten Golden Eagles), who was dubbed the “Child of God” after his stint in the Major Leagues.
Osuna was once one of Major League Baseball’s premier closers. A Mexican-born right-hander who averaged 96.7 mph (155.6 km/h) in his prime, Osuna recorded 20 saves in his first year with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015. After making his first All-Star team with 36 saves in 2016 and 39 in 2017, Osuna became the youngest player in league history to reach 100 career saves (23 years, 62 days) on April 11, 2018, against the Baltimore Orioles.
Shortly thereafter, however, his career took a turn for the worse when he was arrested in May 2018 for assaulting his girlfriend. He was suspended 75 games for violating Major League Baseball’s labor agreement against domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse, and was traded to the Houston Astros in July of that year.
In 2019, he led the American League (AL) with 38 saves in Houston, but in 2020, an elbow injury ended his season after just four games. His major league career was effectively over. In six seasons, he finished with a 14-18 record in 314 games (315 innings), 155 saves, a 2.74 ERA, and 348 strikeouts.
Even after he recovered from his elbow injury, Osuna’s domestic violence and troubled image kept him from being called up by major league teams. But for Osuna, Japan was the land of opportunity. After playing in the Mexican League in 2021, he made his Nippon Professional Baseball debut in June of that year, signing with the Chiba Lotte Marines. For an estimated salary of 90 million yen, Osuna pitched 29 games (29⅔ innings) with a 4-1 record, 10 saves, 9 holds, and a 0.91 ERA with 32 strikeouts.
After rebounding in Japan, there were offers from the major leagues for Osuna. Still in his early 20s, a return to the big leagues didn’t seem out of the question, but Osuna stayed in Japan. “There was talk of a major league contract,” he says, “but I like Japan.” Instead, he switched from Chiba Lotte to SoftBank.
SoftBank, one of Japan’s deepest pockets, lured Osuna away with a one-year, 650 million yen deal. Along with Japan’s top pitcher, Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix Buffaloes), it was the highest in the league this year. He has lived up to SoftBank’s expectations. In 49 games (49 innings), he went 3-2, 26 saves, 12 holds, with a 0.92 ERA and 42 strikeouts.
He pitched at the top of the league with a 0.92 ERA for the second straight year, and his price tag jumped as other teams showed interest in him. Newly appointed SoftBank president Hiroki Kokubo said, “It doesn’t make sense without him,” and urged him to re-sign.
Osuna has a troubled reputation due to a domestic violence incident during his time in the major leagues, but that’s not the case in Japan. Nikkan Sports describes him as “serious and passionate about baseball, passing on his major league experience to younger players. Osuna’s retention is also beneficial off the field. Sportshochi also praised Osuna, saying, “He is a leader off the field, inviting young players to meals and sharing his experience.
Osuna has earned a total of $16.44 million in Major League Baseball. He didn’t make much money before free agency due to domestic violence and injuries. However, he is now making nearly twice as much money in Japan, where he is building a new life. Financially, it was the right choice for Osuna to stay in Japan and not return to the majors.