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It's official: Uchikawa joins SoftBank

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It's official: Uchikawa joins SoftBank

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In another major coup the Hawks have pulled in this year's uncharacteristically deep free agent market, the SoftBank Hawks have signed the top bat available, inking Seiichi Uchikawa to a four-year deal worth up to 1.36 billion yen ($16.2 million) if all the incentives are reached. He will also wear the number 24, which was his number in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

The now-former BayStars' outfielder said in a press conference yesterday, "It took me until yesterday (Nov. 30). I had a hard time deciding, but I ultimately wanted to try and win a championship in Kyushu. ... I'm not really in this for the money, but my contract is a 4-year deal that starts at 560M yen and can go up to 1.36B yen. That's a good source of motivation."

This comes after weeks of intense negotiations from all sides. SoftBank once again had the aid of Sadaharu Oh at the table, and when asked about the world home un champion's influence, Uchikawa replied, "part of me was drawn [to the Hawks] when he said I didn't have to change a thing. Especially coming from a person of his stature."

An Oita Prefecture native, Uchikawa was also in negotiations with the Yokohama BayStars and Hiroshima Carp, as previously reported. He announced his decision in Yokohama yesterday, no doubt to the chagrin of BayStars fans. It was also revealed why he was possibly going to the Hiroshima Carp: his wife is actually a Carp fan, but apparently it wasn't her wish to see him play for them.

Either way, the Hawks have taken care of business on the free agent market. They now need to turn their attention to getting the rest of their players under contract for next year. Toshiya Sugiuchi is due to meet with the team on the 10th for salary negotiations, and he has been vocal in his opposition to the new salaries the Hawks are administering.
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