Japan’s ‘Sports Hochi’ reported on the 6th, “The Softbank Hawks have acquired Arihara, who became a free agent from Triple-A under the Texas Rangers.” 

Arihara was a very attractive free agent pitcher. Although his major league career ended in failure, he won 60 victories in 129 games in 6 seasons, including the Pacific League rookie of the year when he was with Japan’s Nippon Ham Fighters. As a result, multiple Japanese clubs such as Softbank and Hanshin Tigers showed interest in the recruitment, and Softbank, which sent Senga Kodai (New York Mets) to the United States, became the final winner of the recruitment war. 안전놀이터

Arihara signed a two-year, $6.2 million contract with Texas through the posting system ahead of the 2021 season. With the addition of a posting fee of 1.24 million dollars, a total of 7.44 million dollars (approximately 9.4 billion won) was invested in the transfer.

Contrary to his expectations, Arihara has been plagued by controversy over ‘eating and running’ since the first year. He was included in the starting rotation early with a career of 60 wins in Japan, but failed to adapt to the big leagues and had only 2 wins and 3 losses in 7 games with an ERA of 6.59 until early May. He once even competed with Yang Hyeon-jong for the starting position.

He was not in good health either. He suffered ups and downs for a month due to pain in the middle finger of his right hand, and then had problems with his shoulder. At the end of May, he underwent right shoulder aneurysm surgery at a local hospital. It was a major operation that would take at least 12 weeks to recover from.

Even after returning from injury, the big leagues were still a high wall. Arihara, who was shaken with an ERA of 6.75 in September, was assigned on September 20 after leaving 2 wins and 4 losses with an ERA of 6.64 in 10 games without a quality start in the first year. Afterwards, he passed the waiver and remained at the Triple A Round Rock Express under the club, and joined last year’s spring camp as an invited player.

Arihara, who started the season at Triple-A in 2022, had a difficult chance to call up the big leagues in August, leaving an average of 4.88 with 3 wins and 6 losses in 18 games. However, he suffered the humiliation of being relegated to the minors again as he was nominated for transfer after a sluggish ERA of 9.45 with 1 win and 3 losses in 5 games. 

Originally, Arihara planned to negotiate with multiple American clubs on the premise of a major league contract. He did not return to his home country and remained in Texas, conducting self-training and seeking re-entry to the big leagues. Arihara’s agent, Joel Wolf, said in November of last year, “Unlike 2021, Arihara is in very good shape. He also interviewed, saying, “I will do my best to win a major league contract.”

Arihara is expected to fill the vacancy of Senga, who left for the major leagues. Sports Hochi said, “Softbank has succeeded in recruiting a new ace candidate. As the successor to Senga, the previous ace, we picked a right-handed pitcher with rich experience in the United States and Japan,” he said.