Read that headline carefully folks… That is MASAHIKO Tanaka of the Marines, not Masahiro Tanaka of the Eagles.
The Swallows did not add a super ace to the roster, instead they acquired a third string catcher at the low low price of a third string catcher.
Ryohei Kawamoto will be headed the other way to the Marines and will be ending a 8 year run with the Swallows. Kawamoto was drafted in the fourth round out of university in the 2004 draft. Hailed as a potential Furuta heir, he was assigned number 28 (Furuta’s 27 + 1), but he never came close to living up to that billing. Kawamoto never got the regular playing time necessary to get into a groove and never really had strong situational hitting to be a great bat off the bench. While he had his moments, he wasn’t going to displace Aikawa or the now emergent Nakamura, not to mention more recent draftees like Nishida, Mizuno, and Hoshino.
Which naturally raises the question, why did we acquire Masahiko Tanaka? Tanaka was drafted by the Marines in the fourth round of the 2003 draft out of university one year prior to Kawamoto, . However, Tanaka could never overcome the likes of Tomoya Satozaki and Tasuku Hashimoto to get any regular playing time. So despite entering the league a year earlier than Kawamoto, Tanaka has played in 75 fewer games and has almost half the plate appearances of Kawamoto. Tanaka displays less power than Kawamoto but apparently has the ability to play multiple infield positions, including second. Tanaka looks like a typical defensive catcher with little offensive upside.
Ultimately, this trade is a fairly typical Japanese trade in which two teams trade each other equally useless former draft picks so they don’t have to suffer the indignity of cutting a long-serving player. If we’re splitting hairs I think the Swallows lost this trade, but unless the scouts know something no one else knows, I predict neither player will be a factor for their new team and will quickly be sacked.
Masahiko Tanaka Career Stats