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Hanshin Chikamoto Leading the Tigers to their first championship

Leading the Tigers to their first championship in 38 years earns him a big payday.

Outfielder Koji Chikamoto, 29, who led the team to the Japan Series title, has become the highest-paid player in the Hanshin Tigers organization. He signed a nine-year contract on Monday for 320 million yen ($2.91 billion), a 150 million yen ($1.37 billion) increase from this year’s 170 million yen salary. It’s the highest salary ever for the sixth-year outfielder and the first time he’s earned more than 300 million yen.

Chikamoto told Japanese media, “There was no negotiation. We talked about baseball for about five minutes. It was the same last year, and I will work hard to win back-to-back titles next season.”

Outperforming top outfielders

Until now, the highest salary for a sixth-year outfielder was ¥280 million for Masataka Yoshida (Orix) in 2021. Yuki Yanagita (SoftBank) earned ¥270 million in 2016 and Ichiro Suzuki (Orix) earned ¥260 million in 1997.

Ichiro and Yoshida led their teams to Japan Series titles and went on to play in the Major Leagues. Yanagita earned ¥620 million this year. This is the highest salary for all Nippon Professional Baseball players.

Among all players, infielder Munetaka Murakami set the record for the highest salary in his sixth year.

He re-signed ahead of the 2023 season for 600 million yen. This is an increase of ¥380 million from ¥220 million. He tied for third overall behind Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix – 650 million yen) and Yanagita, a free agent with a multi-year contract.

Murakami hit 56 home runs last year, surpassing Sadaharu Oh (Wang Chung-SoftBank) 온라인카지노 for the most by a Japanese player in a single season. He became the youngest player at 22 to lead the league in batting average (.318), home runs (56), and RBIs (134).

A graduate of Kansai Gakuen University, Chikamoto played for the Osaka Gas, a social baseball team, before joining the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization as the No. 1 pick in the 2019 Rookie Draft. He was born and raised in the Kansai region and has been playing baseball in the area for most of his life.

He was a full-time starter from his first year.

In 142 games in 2019, he batted .271 with 159 hits, nine home runs, 42 RBIs, 82 runs scored, and 36 stolen bases. His 159 hits were a Central League rookie record. He won the stolen base title in his first year. He led the league in stolen bases four times, in 2019, 2020, 2022, and 2023.

In his fifth year as a pro, the 2023 season, he batted .285 with 143 hits, eight home runs, 54 RBIs, and 83 runs scored. He was strong on the base paths, going 3-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

He is the best offensive outfielder in the Central League. He was named to the Best Nine for three consecutive years (2021-2023) and won an outfield Golden Glove. In five seasons, he totaled 773 hits.

In the Japan Series against the Orix Buffaloes, he was named MVP after going 14-for-29 with four home runs, eight RBIs and four runs scored. He had four hits in Game 7. For Chikamoto, this is his best season yet.

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