Baseball: Yanagita to be highest-paid position player in NPB history

© Kyodo News

Softbank Hawks outfielder Yuki Yanagita agreed on Friday a 620 million yen ($5.46 million) annual salary for the 2022 season which will make him the highest-paid position player in Nippon Professional Baseball history.

Yanagita, who banked 610 million yen last season to equal the record held by outfielder Hideki Matsui, will be in his third year of a seven-year contract with the Pacific League club which also includes performance incentives.

The 33-year-old hit .300 with 28 homers and 80 RBIs in 141 games in 2021, when he was also a member of Japan's gold-winning Olympic baseball team. But the Hawks failed to win back-to-back PL pennants and a fifth straight Japan Series title, finishing fourth in the league.

Current Rakuten Eagles pitcher Masahiro Tanaka's estimated annual salary of 900 million yen makes him the highest-paid NPB player ever at any position.

Yanagita has been elevated to the position of Hawks' team captain for the 2022 season, with the Fukuoka-based squad looking to make a fresh start under new manager Hiroshi Fujimoto.

"I want to post convincing numbers that will impress everyone. I'm going to aim for a (Japan Series) win only, and I want to toss our manager in the air," Yanagita said.