Baseball: Hawks acquire suspended slugger Yamakawa

The SoftBank Hawks have acquired three-time Pacific League home run leader Hotaka Yamakawa, the Fukuoka-based club said Tuesday.

His four-year contract worth an estimated 1.2 billion yen ($8.4 million) is likely to have incentives. The 32-year-old first baseman was suspended for much of the 2023 season by the PL rival Seibu Lions after being accused of sexual assault.

Yamakawa's case was referred to prosecutors in May for his alleged rape of a woman in her 20s in November 2022, but they declined to bring charges against him three months later due to insufficient evidence.

SoftBank, in need of a right-handed power bat, carefully assessed the circumstances and determined there would be no hindrance to the acquisition.

The 2018 Pacific League MVP, also a member of Japan's 2023 World Baseball Classic-winning team, played just 17 games this year, hitting .254 with no homers and five RBIs.

Yamakawa has hit 218 home runs in his 10-year career, all with Seibu.

© Kyodo News