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Why Soriano Left Japan

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Why Soriano Left Japan
What happen with Soriano leaving Japan? How was he able to leave?
Re: Why Soriano Left Japan
[ Author: btimmer | Posted: Jul 28, 2003 1:30 AM ]

I'm sure others are more familiar with the situation, but from what I've read here State-side, Soriano's agent knew there was interest in MLB. To get out of his contract with the Carp, he "retired." I believe that made him a free agent.

But there may be a different view of this from the other side of the Pacific.
Re: Why Soriano Left Japan
[ Author: Guest: Gary Garland | Posted: Jul 28, 2003 2:17 PM ]

What happened in the Soriano matter is this: he was only making about $30,000 a year with Hiroshima, which doesn't go very far in Japan. In fact, it's about the statutory minimum Japanese companies have to pay their foreign employees if they are sponsoring the employees' visa. Soriano and his agent, Dan Nomura, asked for a ten fold, iirc, increase in Soriano's salary, a request which was rebuffed by the notoriously stingy Hiroshima front office. So it went to arbitration (Japanese arbitration is largely a rigged affair in favor of the owners), where he lost.

So he retired. Then Soriano worked out for several teams, including Cleveland and the Yankees, and the Yankees made the sweetest offer. The Carp threatened to sue. However, MLB ruled that the Yankees could sign Soriano due to a technical oversight by Hiroshima, who never went through with their threat to resort to the U.S. courts. And Alfonso lived happily ever after.
Re: Why Soriano Left Japan
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Jul 30, 2003 6:36 AM ]

It is also important to mention that when in Japan, Soriano didn't really play for Hiroshima, he was a minor leaguer. Also, at the time, he was younger and had not shown many of the qualities that he has shown with the Yankees. Even now, he's a work in progress.

I agree that the Carp won't spend any money to improve the team.
Re: Why Soriano Left Japan
[ Author: Guest: harry | Posted: Jul 31, 2003 3:51 AM ]

In order to "retire" he did have to sit out a complete season.
Re: Why Soriano Left Japan
[ Author: Guest: bob whiting | Posted: Jul 31, 2003 6:41 PM ]

Following is the short version of how Soriano made it from the Carp to the Yankees.

Soriano was getting a $45,000 minimum salary from the Carp on whose farm team he'd spent the 1997 season. With the help of his agent, Don Nomura, he filed for arbitration, asking for a salary of $165,000 -- a figure Nomura arrived at by dividing the average salary of all foreigners in the Japanese minor leagues, which at the time came to $320,000. A hearing was held, adjudicated by the NPB commissioner and the two league presidents. Nomura was barred from attending. Soriano, who was willing to stay another year in Japan had the ruling come out in his favor, lost -- not unpredictably. So he declared voluntary retirement, taking advantage of the so-called Nomo clause which Hideo Nomo used to gain his freedom from the NPB, and went to the States to take part in tryouts.

The Carp filed an injunction to block Soriano from playing anywhere else, sending out letters to MLB teams warning them to keep their hands off. The MLB executive council was convened to decide the matter.

Until that time, everyone in the U.S. had assumed the operative baseball agreement between the two countries was the one signed in 1967, which allowed voluntarily retired players to emigrate abroad, as Nomo had done. The Americans were unaware that the NPB in the post-Nomo era had unilaterally expanded the scope of their worldwide protections under the 1967 Working Agreement. The reason they were unaware was because the Japanese side had failed to notify them. There was nothing else in writing to cancel out the famous Kanai-Murray letters between the MLB and NPB commissioner's offices which had allowed Nomo to voluntary retire and go to the U.S. in the first place.

After tense, acrimonious meetings in New York involving the MLB Executive Council, representatives from the NPB, Soriano's people, and lawyers from the MLBPA, the MLB ruled that as far as they were concerned the Nomo clause was still in effect. A memo was dispatched to all MLB GM's that contained the phrases: "After extensive communication with the Japanese Baseball Commissioner's in New York, we have come to the conclusion that Mr. Soriano was or should have been placed on the Voluntarily Retired List... Japanese Voluntary Retired players may play for any team outside Japan... The current U.S.-Japan Player Agreement does not restrict Major League Clubs' ability to sign a player on the Japanese Voluntarily Retired List...."

Soriano was thus allowed to voluntarily retire, just as Nomo had done, and sign with the Yankees.

In the wake of that meeting, the 1967 Working Agreement was scrapped and, in 1998, a new protocol, the Posting System was established.
Re: Why Soriano Left Japan
[ Author: ReverseTheCurse | Posted: Aug 6, 2003 11:57 AM ]

The only thing I would like to add to Bob Whiting's excellent explanation is that I believe Soriano did end up settling with the Carp out of court (for $10K?). This may not seem like much in light of what Soriano has developed into, but at the time the Carp were facing an expensive litigation with the deep-pocketed Yankees backing Soriano. Also, the injunction would only have prevented Soriano from playing for anyone else, it wouldn't have required him to play for the Carp.

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

It is my sincere hope that once you learn a bit about what we're about here that you will join the community of contributors.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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