Veteran right-hander Tyler Chatwood will become the latest big-league player to sign with an Asian league during Major League Baseball’s owner-imposed lockout. Chatwood is expected to sign with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Nippon Professional Baseball league, according to Sports Hochi, a Japanese publication. Chatwood’s contract will be announced in the coming days, per the report.
Chatwood, who celebrated his 32nd birthday in December, made 32 appearances in the majors last season while splitting time between the Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants. He didn’t fare so well in those contests, amassing a 5.63 ERA (79 ERA+) and a 1.81 strikeout-to-walk ratio. That effort raised his career marks to a 4.45 ERA (101 ERA+) and a 1.43 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 229 appearances.
While Chatwood has always possessed good stuff, he has seldom had the command and control required to make the most of it. Indeed, he has issued more than a walk for every two innings thrown in the majors, including nearly six walks per nine last year.
Last week, CBS Sports reported on why so many notable free agents were leaving the United States in favor of either Japan or South Korea during the lockout. Here’s a snippet of the article:
“The uncertainty surrounding what the market is going to look like post-lockout is the clearest reason why some of these fringe players are going overseas,” an agency source said. “The top-of-the-market free agents are still going to have teams pursuing them, but the marginal types have zero leverage and teams are going to move through that group of players quickly so more guys are seeking security.”
Given Chatwood’s play in 2021 (he finished below the replacement-level threshold, according to Baseball Reference’s calculations), it makes sense that he would go overseas and attempt to reinvent himself in a new environment. The comeback stories penned by Josh Lindblom and Nick Martínez in recent years have proved that MLB teams are more than willing to take chances on pitchers who have held their own in NPB despite checkered track records stateside.