Baseball: Hawks outbid rival clubs to acquire free agent Kondo

The SoftBank Hawks are set to acquire highly sought free-agent outfielder Kensuke Kondo, one of the best contact hitters in Japanese baseball, an executive of the club revealed Monday.

The Hawks offered the 29-year-old Kondo an attractive deal to beat rival bids from four other Pacific League clubs, including the Japan Series champion Orix Buffaloes and the Nippon Ham Fighters, who were trying to bring him back for next season.

Kondo is a .307 career hitter with 52 home runs and 446 RBIs over 11 seasons, all with the Fighters. He batted .302 with eight homers, 41 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .418 in 99 games this year.

Kondo also played for Japan's all-professional team at last year's Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament, contributing to the host nation's gold-winning campaign.

The Hawks finished second in the 2022 PL standings and are in need of a consistent hitter, after their young players failed to fill the holes left by Ryoya Kurihara and Seiji Uebayashi, who were injured early in the season.

© Kyodo News