Among players from 12 Japanese professional baseball teams, he was the latest to finalize his annual salary contract and hold a press conference.
Sasaki’s ‘explanation press conference’
Rocky Sasaki, who caused controversy by requesting early entry into the Major League, holds a press conference at Jojo Marine Stadium in Chiba Prefecture, Japan on the 27th and explains.
Rocky Sasaki (22, Chiba Lotte Marines), who caused controversy by expressing his intention to advance to the U.S. Major League early, explained in front of reporters, “I have had conversations with the club for a long time about entering the U.S.” .
The Chiba Lotte team also supported Sasaki, saying, “The delay in salary negotiations is not due to Sasaki’s selfishness,” and “The club’s fault is also responsible for the misunderstanding.”
Sasaki held a press conference at Jojo Marine Stadium in Chiba Prefecture, Japan, Chiba Lotte’s home stadium, on the 27th.
The day before, he was the last player from 12 Japanese professional baseball teams to sign an annual salary contract for 2024.
Before the Chiba Lotte club’s official announcement, Japanese media reported that “the club opposed Sasaki’s early advancement to the major leagues, and salary negotiations are not taking place,” fueling the ‘conflict theory’.
The club quickly arranged a press conference for Sasaki.
Sasaki said in front of Japanese reporters, including Kyodo News, “I haven’t had a chance to speak publicly about my situation. In the end, misunderstandings arose and fans were worried,” and “(2020) From the time I joined Chiba Lotte, I had no idea how to advance to the major league with the club.” “We had a conversation about it. I didn’t suddenly request it from the club last year,” he said.
A club official also said, “As Sasaki said, Sasaki has consistently communicated his intention to advance to the major leagues to the club through his agent since he joined. It was a process of communicating with the club,” and “We made mistakes during the discussion process.” He explained.
Japanese media reported, “One of the Chiba Lotte officials verbally gave a positive answer to Sasaki about early advancement to the major leagues.”
It is reported that Sasaki requested Chiba Lotte to “allow him to enter the American professional baseball league” after the 2023 season, but was rejected.
Chibar Lotte manager Masato Yoshii, who entered the major league through Japan during his career, opposed Sasaki’s early move to the major league, saying, “It is not too late to return the favor to the current club and advance to the United States.”
Because the fact that Chiba Lotte and Sasaki had discussed entering the major league for a long time was not made public, the gaze of Japanese media and fans towards Sasaki was not positive.
According to the U.S.-Japan professional baseball agreement, Japanese players who try out for the major league before the age of 25 can only sign a ‘minor league contract.’
The maximum contract fee a player can receive is only $5.75 million (about KRW 7.7 billion), and the transfer fee a player can receive from his former club is up to $1.44 million (about KRW 1.93 billion).
Some Japanese fans described Sasaki’s early advancement to the American professional baseball league as ‘selfishness’ after pitching for only three seasons in the first team of the Japanese professional baseball league.
As Sasaki and Chiba Lotte gave explanations, public opinion changed slightly.
Sasaki did not say anything about pursuing advancement to the major leagues after the 2024 season.
He emphasized, “Playing in the major leagues is a long-time dream of mine. We are in constant communication with the club about advancing to the major leagues,” but added, “First of all, it is important to achieve good results in the 2024 season.” 19가이드03