Longtime Hanshin Tigers shortstop Takashi Toritani has been considering his options in recent weeks, deciding between a return to the team he’s captained in Japan or whether to make a jump to the major leagues. The 33 year old, Scott Boras represented free agent is expected to make a decision shortly after the start of the new year.
Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star relays a Japanese report indicating that Toritani appears to be weighing offers from the Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres, and, of course, Hanshin.
Known for his durability and steadiness defensively, Toritani won’t put up eye-popping offensive numbers. He holds Japan’s Central League record for consecutive games played with 1,444 and hasn’t seen fewer than 590 plate appearances in a season since his rookie campaign in 2004. He doesn’t hit for much power, but is a .285/.372/.412 hitter over his eleven seasons with Hanshin. In each of the past four seasons he’s taken more walks than strikeouts. In 2014 he batted .313/.406/.415 with 28 doubles, 8 home runs, and 10 stolen bases.
A number of teams are still in search of options at either second base or shortstop and there are few options remaining on the free agent market that would be a possible upgrade, so the developing market for a player like Toritani makes some sense. His entire career in Japan has been spent at shortstop, but Toritani has played second base before when he appeared on the World Baseball Classic roster in 2013. San Diego is likely looking at him as a shortstop, but the Blue Jays would want him to slide over and play second base.
Kennedy notes that the Blue Jays have played 14 different second basemen since midway through the 2011 season, when Aaron Hill was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Signing Toritani likely wouldn’t be a long term solution to that revolving door, but it could certainly offer up a little stability at the position.