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D-backs sign working agreement with the Yokohama DeNA Baystars

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The Arizona Diamondbacks have signed a three-year working agreement with the Yokohama DeNA Baystars of the NPB’s Central League.

Photo by Casey Wilcox/D-backs
Casey Wilcox

As part of the agreement, the teams will exchange information and non-uniformed personnel with each other throughout the season, including regular visits to both Arizona and Japan. “We are thrilled about this working agreement because it covers both the baseball and business side of our franchises,” said D-backs President & CEO Derrick Hall. “We have great relationships throughout Japan and we are looking forward to not only sharing our own best practices with the Baystars but to learn from them as well.”

“I am very happy to announce this working agreement with the Arizona Diamondbacks,” said Baystars General Manager Kazuaki Mihara. “The franchise has been successful not just with their talented players, but with running an organization. In particular, I am impressed with the D-backs because of their advanced thought process and innovative approach and look forward to working with them and learning from them in order to further grow as an organization.”

In addition to assistance related to professional scouting, player development, roster management, sports medicine and analytics, the teams will work with one another on fan experience, stadium operations, marketing and ticketing initiatives. “This agreement with Yokohama will allow both teams to share information as we look to optimize all facets of our baseball operations,” said D-backs Executive Vice President & General Manager Mike Hazen. “From a global perspective, the ability to share with and learn from each other provides a unique opportunity to diversify the way we think, evaluate, and coach.”

The D-backs have had a strong presence in Japan for many years, including multiple goodwill trips during the past several seasons. Among the executives to make recent trips to Japan include Hall, Assistant General Manager Jared Porter, Luis Gonzalez, Randy Johnson and Director of Pacific Rim Operations Makoto “Mack” Hayashi. The group has twice hosted the MLB Road Show and clinic in the town of Ishinomaki, which was severely damaged by a tsunami in 2011.

D-backs right-hander Yoshihisa Hirano enters his second season with the D-backs after finishing tied for sixth in National League Rookie of the Year voting last season. The Kyoto, Japan native appeared in 75 games, setting a record for games pitched by a Japanese player and a D-backs rookie record with 32 holds while ranking second with a 2.44 ERA. Hirano is the second D-back of Japanese descent, joining Takashi Saito (2012).

The D-backs’ history in Japan dates to before the franchise played its first game, when the General Manager, Joe Garagiola Jr., joined Manager Buck Showalter and Senior Advisor, Pacific Rim Operations Jim Marshall on a goodwill trip in 1997 that included watching the games in which Ichiro Suzuki played. Garagiola Jr. made numerous trips to Japan during his tenure as GM and in 2002, the team formalized a working relationship with the Nippon Ham Fighters which ended in 2006. In 2004, the club began hosting young players from Japan in Phoenix and sending young Valley residents for baseball trips to Japan, with one of those young players going on to play in the D-backs’ farm system (Jake Williams).