The NPB is set to begin on June 19th. Here are 20 former MLB players set to play in Japan.
While Major League Baseball yet again fails to produce when presented with an opportunity to bring in new fans and take control of the sports spotlight, sports around the world have slowly started to resume or at least have plans to in the near future, like Japan’s NPB.
The Nippon Professional Baseball league has scheduled a June 19th Opening Day, even as two players recently tested positive for Covid-19 before a preseason contest.
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Baseball fans in America have had to fulfill their appetite for baseball by enjoying professional baseball from Korea and Taiwan and will now look to Japan for sports entertainment as one of the top pro baseball leagues in the world prepares to begin.
The 12-team NPB allows for more foreign-born players than the 10-team KBO and their limit of three foreign players per roster, providing fans in America with plenty of opportunities to watch familiar faces in Japan.
Let’s take a look at 20 of the more notable former MLB players who have taken their talents overseas to the NPB.
OF Adam Jones- Orix Buffaloes
Easily the most well-known and decorated player on this list, Adam Jones elected to sign a two-year/$8 million deal with the Orix Buffaloes this offseason, rather than wait around for another contract similar to what he signed late last offseason with the Arizona Diamondbacks (1 yr/$3 million).
Seen as a part-time player in Major League Baseball, Jones, 34, now has an opportunity to be the face of his new franchise, bringing with him 282 career home runs, 1,939 total hits, four Gold Glove Awards, and five All-Star appearances during his MLB career. Still a beloved figure among Baltimore Orioles fans, Jones will have a large contingent of fans converting to Orix fans should there be no MLB season.
OF Gerardo Parra- Yomiuri Giants
After appearing in 89 games for the World Series champion Washington Nationals last season and leading a Baby Shark movement, Gerardo Parra didn’t wait long to ink a free agent deal, signing with the Giants in late-November.
Parra’s major league career spanned 11 years and six teams, most notably with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In his six seasons in Arizona, Parra was worth 10.8 bWAR, won two Gold Gloves, and finished top ten in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2009.
SS Alcides Escobar- Tokyo Yakult Swallows
Also making his NPB debut this season will be another former Gold Glove winner and World Series champion, Alcides Escobar. Escobar hit .259 with 207 doubles, 43 triples, and 36 home runs across eight seasons with the Kansas City Royals, where he secured a World Series ring in 2015.
Escobar played a full 162 game season three times in Kansas City and was a doubles machine for the Royals until 2018 when he saw his production take a significant dip. A -1.6 bWAR season resulted in Escobar taking a minor league deal with the Orioles ahead of the 2019 season. After failing to make the major league roster, he signed a minor-league deal with the Chicago White Sox and spent the entire season in Triple-A.